Great mobility is being noted recently on behalf of Greece towards the Balkan countries, with successive summits at bilateral and trilateral level being organized.
If one considers that the first negative reactions to the election of Alexis Tsipras came from Balkan leaders, one can understand the titanic effort made by the Greek government and Greek diplomacy to overcome this negativity.
Of course, this was also the result of two other very important factors. On the one hand, the strong US pressure to find a point of contact and cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria, and on the other, the Chinese interests, wishing to open the Silk Road to the Balkans.
China and the US, for their own different reasons, desire cooperation with the Balkan nations. China wants to penetrate the market of Europe and the US seeks to stop the Russian expansion in the region.
On the other hand, isolated on the southeastern border of Europe are the Balkan countries, most of which are trying to get rid of their past and are seeing their voice reaching Brussels in a weak fashion. The fact that Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania became EU members does not mean that the everyday life of citizens has improved.
As Europe is faced with several cohesion problems, the creation of small poles, usually formed by weaker countries, seems inevitable. This is certainly not something new for Europe and the EU. It has been known for years that Germany has its own pole, with the Netherlands and Austria. Thus, in the new landscape, the Visegrad countries are actively engaged in the refugee crisis, while the Baltic states form a new agenda within the EU in co-operation (?) with NATO against Russia.
Slowly but methodically, Greece has been shaping new alliances within the EU for the past year, keeping the leading role for itself. Alexis Tsipras’ initiative to converge the leaders of the EU countries in the Mediterranean and the European South a year ago is already receiving considerable attention from the bureaucracy of Brussels, but also from Germany.
Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, on his part, has formed two important groups that are in cooperation. On the one hand there is the four-party co-operation between Greece, Bulgaria, FYRO Macedonia and Albania at the level of Foreign Affairs Ministers and Interior Ministers; and on the other hand, the group of the four EU member states belonging to the Balkans: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.
Whichever way one sees it, Greece has now entered the geopolitical game for good. Its strategic position and the aforementioned needs of powerful states such as China and the US in terms of wanting Greece’s involvement in their business or geopolitical pursuits, significantly upgrades the country. In any case, it remains a pillar of stability and security, despite the economic crisis from which it appears to be recovering slowly but steadily.
The new quadrilateral meeting between Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, to be held at the Euxinograd Palace in Varna, Bulgaria on October 3, is in fact forming a new interconnecting axis ranging from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe. This axis bypasses unstable Balkan states, while it can be linked to Turkey’s axes and further expand the scope for freight and energy transport.
Of course, not only these issues will be discussed at the Summit, as the refugee issue, security and cooperation will also dominate the talks between the four leaders.
A successful cooperation will strengthen the voice of the EU’s Balkan countries, while establishing them as a pillar of stability and security, while it is also possible that it will inspire other Western Balkan countries to carry out the necessary reforms so that they could also participate in the great growth prospects of the region./IBNA