Greece has always supported the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the European Union, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday from Pristina after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz.
“The government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis remains firmly in favor of this commitment,” said Dendias, “and we have taken several initiatives in this direction.”
Dendias – who was received earlier by the President and met with the Prime Minister of the separatist Serbian province of Kosovo – expressed Greece’s strong support for a first intergovernmental conference between Albania and North Macedonia, ideally in June.
Greece has worked to ensure that the issue of the Western Balkans remains high on the EU’s agenda, he said, explaining that it was “on the basis of the constant belief that this region must be an integral part of the European project “.
“We must not allow other powers to undermine the fragile stability of our region by trying to establish spheres of influence or establish a base under the pretext of cultural, historical or religious relations,” he said. he said indirectly referring to Turkey.
“In other words, we believe that the Western Balkans belong to Europe,” he added.
Dendias said the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis, responsible for international economic and trade relations, underlined Greece’s commitment to promote relations between the two countries.
The sectors of interest he cited were infrastructure, agricultural products and transport.
“We already have a significant presence here,” he said, “but we believe there are huge opportunities for its future expansion.”
In addition, he expressed the conviction that all the countries of the Western Balkans should “connect to the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP), via interconnected natural gas pipelines”.
Greece, he said, could provide “support and technical know-how to reduce dependence on lignite and expand the use of renewable energy sources”.
Dendias also said that Greece consistently supports visa liberalization for the people of Kosovo, and continued to support this position in the EU Council of Foreign Ministers.
“We particularly appreciate your efforts in the areas of the rule of law, public administration and the fight against corruption and organized crime, despite the lack of funding,” he said.
“We are here to help you, if you wish,” added the Greek minister.
In this regard, he mentioned the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) and the fact that several Greek nationals are working there which he met during his visit to Pristina.
Dendias also underlined his full support for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and called on all parties to step up their efforts towards a legally binding and viable solution, which will contribute to the stability of the whole region and bring it closer to the European family. .
“Greece actively supports all efforts” of the EU’s special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, he said.
Finally, Dendias underlined Greece’s commitment to NATO’s most enduring operation, KFOR, saying he would continue to support it to fulfill its mission in a fair and impartial manner.
“Our position is that any possible modification of it must take into account the prerequisites, and not the schedule parameters,” he noted.
Dendias also met the Prime Minister of the separatist province, Albin Kurti.
He also met Parliament Speaker Glauk Konjufca in Pristina, with the European perspective of the Western Balkans at the center of their talks.
The Greek Minister was also received by the President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu and had a constructive discussion on cooperation between the two sides and developments in the Western Balkans.
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