Nikos Kotzias: ‘Greece returns to the Balkans’

Nikos Kotzias: ‘Greece returns to the Balkans’

Athens, July 23, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

With the simple phrase, “Greece returns to the Balkans”, foreign minister Nikos Kotzias set the tone of the Greek foreign policy, as he analysed it in the briefing of party representatives that took place Wednesday under the extraordinary National Foreign Policy Council, on the meetings, partnerships and agreements he recently had in his visits in seven Balkan countries.

Our foreign policy, as Kotzias explained after completion of the three-hour meeting, has two components; on the one hand “to support cooperation with a second country and its course towards the EU” and on the other “to rediscover a way to create an internal Balkan “space”, in order to build the Balkan region, something which will also facilitate the future position of all those states in the EU itself”.

The foreign minister briefed the representatives of the parties on the foreign policy of Greece in all the countries he visited, which included, FYROM, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, BiH and Montenegro, as well as on the country’s good strategic relations with Bulgaria. Specifically, he made it clear that the present leadership of the foreign ministry continues “a policy in Kosovo, that had been determined in the past, based on the agreement made in 2012 for the establishment of an office in Greece, and not as wrongly has been told by our own choice, which continues the support of the european course of these states, as it had been decided in 2003 in Thessaloniki, as well as in the years 2010-13, with the agreements these states have made to join the EU”.

In the meeting, the foreign minister also highlighted “the fact that Greece, despite its weaknesses in the financial sector, remains the country with the largest capacities, skills and capabilities in the Balkans, the country that has the cultural, political, historical capacity and the expertise and experience of the EU to contribute to a better tomorrow for all the Balkan states”.

As “convincing” described Andreas Loverdos, while coming out of the meeting, the explanations given by Nikos Kotzias on the issue of Kosovo and expressed his satisfaction for the convening of the National Foreign Policy Council, already twice in the first half of his term, as Foreign minister.

Giorgos Koumoutsakos, spoke of the compelling need of the parties being informed on the country’s balkan policy, stressing that the exchange of views should have preceded the visits by Mr. Kotzias in these countries, since “the role of the council is not to oppose nor to validate afterwards”.

As explained the head of the foreign policy of the New Democracy, he asked from the foreign minister the “reaffirmation of the strategy and rationale of Bucharest”, ie that the accession course of FYROM to the EU and NATO are inextricably linked with the resolution of the name issue. He also stressed that the messages being emitted from Tirana recently are counterproductive and affect a whole range in the Greek-Albanian relations, including our support to their European course”, while for Kosovo, he said that a productive working relationship does not alter Greece’s cautious stance on its recognition.

Finally, he put forward to Kotzias the issue of a lack of cooperation of Turkey in terms of migratory flows to Greece and the need to promote public diplomacy through the Secretary General of Information.

As one of the most substantive discussions described the meeting Panos Trigazis from SYRIZA, stressing that a multidimensional and peaceful policy in the Balkans, as exercised by Kotzias, is very important and fills a major gap in the thus far Greek foreign policy in the Balkans.

Finally, as an extremely interesting exchange of views that will continue to the competent committee of the Parliament described the meeting Spyros Danellis of The River, expressing, inter alia, the view that the CBMs with Skopje are positive development in the relations of the two countries.