Albania’s constitutional court has reportedly issued a ruling to temporarily suspend the legislative ratification of a controversial bilateral agreement with Italy, a development that coincided with an ongoing EU-Western Balkans Summit in Brussels on Thursday evening.

One of the highlights of the agreement calls for asylum seekers clandestinely reaching Italy to be transferred and temporarily hosted in the Adriatic country.

According to the Italian daily La Stampa, the Albanian high court will rule on two motions that maintain that the agreement violates the country’s constitution and international agreements it has signed.

News of the legal obstacle comes amid Athens’ expressed opposition to a continuation of Albania’s accession process unless progress is made in the case of Fredy Beleri, the ethnic Greek mayor-elect of Himare who remains jailed without a trial date set and without the ability to be sworn-in.

At the same time, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyan has expressed a desire to see accession negotiations with both Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia move ahead, meaning an opening of negotiations on the first chapter dealing with judicial authority and fundamental rights.

During the customary “family portrait” of participating leaders on Thursday, the Greek and Albanian prime ministers, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Edi Rama, respectively, were seen briefly walking together. Nevertheless, sources said the Greek side has repeated its standing position regarding the Beleri case, especially over the mayor-elect’s right to a fair trial and his presumption of innocence.

Greece’s representatives have also plainly stated that the case is not a bilateral issue but one dealing with the rule of law, a cornerstone of the accession process.

The Greek premier has cited his government’s sincere willingness to resolve the issue, reminding that Athens remains one of the forerunners in the western Balkans’ drive for European integration.