Athens, July 17, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The recent statements by Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias in the capital of Kosovo Pristina were blatantly distorted by certain media in Serbia, which resulted in a completely unjustified political noise.
The bad news is that this noise was bred uncritically by Greek media.
In particular, it has been wrongly claimed from the beginning, by Serbian media, that Greece recognizes Kosovo because it opens a Liaison Office in Kosovo (headline of the newspaper Blic).
It’s just that the Greek Liaison Office in Pristina has been operating for years.
It’s just that the statement of Nikos Kotzias said, “we decided to proceed with the establishment of a Kosovo office in Athens.”
As it happens, this last statement refers to a decision of the Greek government from 2012, when foreign minister at the time was Dimitris Avramopoulos, while in 2013 the then foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos had told the Greek House, “For Kosovo, we are ready to accept the opening of an Economic and Trade Office in Greece”.
What’s more, Serbian media falsely claimed that the Greek foreign ministry spoke of the integration of Kosovo in the UN and the EU.
It’s just that Nikos Kotzias never spoke of an integration of Kosovo in UN and the EU, but stated very clearly: “We support Kosovo in the direction of strengthening cooperation with Euro-Atlantic structures and institutions… We support the inclusion of Kosovo in international organizations such as Interpol and UNESCO. We support the establishment of links between the EU and Kosovo”.
It’s just that those who really know the foreign policy of Greece remember that in previous years, as one can be informed by the very site of the Greek foreign ministry, Greece, although it does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, seeks the stabilisation, safety and protection of human rights in Kosovo and the whole region and therefore in December 2012, “voted for the Kosovo request for accession to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as international economic and regional organizations”.
And it’s just that even Serbia itself has accepted a closer EU-Kosovo cooperation. It is characteristic that after the agreement in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina in April 2013, were launched by the EU both the start of Serbia’s negotiations in the EU and the process of concluding a Stabilisation and Association Agreement of Kosovo with the European Union!
Finally, it has been claimed by Serbian media that according to Nikos Kotzia’s statements in Pristina, Greece is about to officially recognize Kosovo.
It’s just that the Greek foreign minister never said such a thing. Reportedly, indeed, not even the Kosovar officials raised such an issue in the talks with the Greek delegation, because they know very well the position of Greece. The only thing Kotzias said regarding the issue of recognition was the obvious truth that must govern the attitude of a serious country in every foreign policy issue: “We need to look at the issue based on two criteria: one criterion is the overall needs of the region and the second is our national and European interest, and we should examine in the future how we can apply in practice these two criteria”.
As former foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos had said in Parliament in 2013, “we will examine the issue of our relations with Kosovo in the period beginning now in light of new developments in relations between Belgrade and Pristina”.
It is no coincidence that after reading the actual statements made by Nikos Kotzias, more and more Mass Media in Serbian recognise that “in fact Greece made no step that Belgrade itself has not already done under the Brussels Agreement”.
The history of the Balkans is rich and very heavy, it is difficult to avoid misunderstandings, especially when there is obviously the intension by certain cycles of taking advantage of the national sensibilities of its peoples. But as the Greek foreign minister said in Pristina: “Churchill said that in the Balkans we produce more history than what we can consume. I think that we should utilize history, learn from history, but also be a step ahead of history. The danger lurks when we become prisoners of history. So, what’s most important for me is to create throughout the Balkans conditions that foster cooperation, security and stability”.