Leaving aside the economical issues, that, from a present perspective, will have a positive outcome at the Eurogroup on January 22, the government opens the national issues that overshadow Greece’s relations with its neighbours.
The Government’s decision to deal with resolving national issues at the moment, is obviously intended to limit the problems it will face at the end of the memoranda (period), in August 2018. A possible solution to chronic national matters, and better relations with neighbouring countries, apparently allows free political space and time for the government, in which it can pay more attention to the economy, growth, attracting investment and financial diplomacy.
It is no coincidence that both the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias consider the first half of 2018 as an opportunity to resolve chronic disputes with neighbouring countries such as Albania, fYROMacedonia and Turkey.
The decision of the Foreign Ministries of Greece and Albania to enter into a meaningful dialogue, so as to resolve disputes that afflict relations between the two countries proved positive and has created a very positive climate. The first several-day meeting in Crete, in November 2017, between the delegations of the Greek and Albanian Foreign Ministries paved the way for resolving issues such as the cemeteries of the Greek soldiers, the rendition of Albanian citizenship to Archbishop of Albania, Mr. Anastasios, after holding the leading post at the Orthodox Church of Albania for 25 years, as well as the financing, by the Albanian government, of the erection of a new temple in the place of a flattened temple-hut, which was demolished due to the (general) re-development in the area.
Such moments, prove, at the very least, the willingness of the Albanian side to find solutions to matters that “divide” Tirana and Athens. Something that was warmly welcomed by the Greek Foreign Ministry’s leadership. The upcoming meeting, planned to take place in Albania on January 19-20 can and should provide an opportunity to solve other outstanding issues, too.
Although Zoran Zaev’s election has given hope for finding a permanent solution to the name issue of fYROMacedonia, the results so far are not that encouraging. Six months after the formation of a government in Skopje, there is only an expressed wish to resolve the problem, without anything substantial for now – plus recorded gestures of goodwill. In addition, Skopje want to hold a referendum on the name issue that, so far, opinion polls show locals unwilling to give up the country’s present name, “Macedonia”.
Confidence Building Measures (MOE), an initiative of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, have shaped a positive climate of co-operation, something that has been reflected in various fields. However, the present situation has even Zaev’s government on pins and needles as, after the withdrawal of the Alliance for Albanians (Aleanca për Shqiptarët) they are left with a thin majority of only one MP in parliament. Of course there are several MPs who could go with Zaev, but nothing can be taken for granted. According to IBNA, possibly Alexis Tsipras may meet with Zoran Zaev in Davos, Switzerland, on the sidelines of the Economic Forum.
Issues that are open and were directly raised during Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Athens are expected to be discussed anew, at the meeting of Alexis Tsipras with the Turkish leadership in Davos and in Thessaloniki. According to the February 2018 programme, Thessaloniki will host the 5th Greek-Turkish Supreme Cooperation Council, with the participation of the Turkish President himself, according to unconfirmed IBNA information…/IBNA
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece