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A Barrage of Diplomatic Contacts using the 2014 Presidency as their Vehicle

October 20, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini, 14.10.2012 [Translated from the Greek Original by B.S.]

Using the Greek [EU] Presidency of 2014 as a vehicle, Athens is attempting a large diplomatic « come back » in the Balkans. This is the direction of initiatives and movements, such as the meetings of mr Avramopoulos with his Balkan counterparts in the margin of the General Assembly of the UN in New York, the visits to Athens of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Albania and Turkey, the forthcoming visit of the Serbian President, the exchange of letters with the leadership of fYROM and various others

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs

The aim of the Greek side is to convene in Thessalonike, during the first semester of 2014 – a time at which Athens will have the Presidency – a summit of the E.U. and West Balkan countries, the so called “Thessalonike II”.

There it will attempt to achieve the adoption of a political declaration that will set « a concrete, ambitious yet realistic target » for the completion of the procedure of the entry of the West Balkan countries. Until then, however, much has to be done, and above all Greek diplomacy must return to an area that for over a decade had been its privileged area, but since the economic crisis began it has been almost marginalized.

It will not be at all easy for Greece to overturn the course of depreciation and to recover as a player, and especially a strong player, on her northern borders. A Serb official said in a rather derogatory style, speaking to a [Greek] diplomat: “What can the Greeks do for us, they who are begging hat in hand to collect money ?”.

Despite this, and having the hope that the situation will start to stabilise, Athens is planning movements so as to reverse the climate in the region. [Greek] diplomacy believes that the Balkan game has not been definitely lost, and considers that the European card remains a strong advantage for the Greek side.

“Despite the difficulties, Greece remains an E.U. and NATO member state and without its vote none of the interested states can cross the door of Brussels and of the Alliance”, an ex-ambassador of a EU member state, who has experience in Eurobalkan matters, told Kathimerini.

As the accession of the countries of the Western Balkans will probably be set high on the agenda of the Greek Presidency, Athens plans to move in an active manner in the upcoming period, so as to have achieved until then real progress in this matter, which will allow Greece to enter the Balkan game in a strong manner. And the interested parties? They are anxiously watching the economic crisis striking the EU countries one after another, and the dynamic of the enlargement weakening, and they feel that the day when they will cross the lintel of Brussels is moving further away.

Of course there is no question that by 2014 fYROM, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo will be members; the only possible exception is Montenegro. The progress reports of the European Commission, that were released during the past week, present a reality that is much more optimistic that the truth. “They are hiding the problems under the carpet and tomorrow they will find them in front of them again”, commented a diplomatic source.


One Comment
  1. Donathan permalink

    What does fyrom have to offer the eu or NATO? Approx 20 yrs and they are impoverished. Thus cannot b4 solely laid at the feet of Greece. To beconsidered a true country is how the progress themselves internally so that may reflect a real society. Instead of focusing on a heritage not their own. The massive cost and dedication to this revisionism or antiquization further alienates their Balkan neighbors and in no way progresses them towards charter membership. Example online a slavic Macedonian said Greece is weak financially and should have never been allowed into the EU. I thought it was ironic coming grin a country on post with Haiti. Fyrom is a veritable welfare state. Finally their estimated armed forces constitute around 15,000 total. That makes no sense in regards what they can contribute. The current tactic it seems is to whine and whimper about being picked on. furthermore finding common ground to resolve the name such as northern Macedonian etc had been unanimously shut down. So why us UT that Greece just be the only antagonist is absurd. Fyrom is trying its hardest to provoke a fight, have Greece list its position

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