“We cannot allow a stability vacuum to be created in the [Western Balkans] region,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after his meeting with his counterpart from North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, in Athens on Thursday. “Such a vacuum can easily be filled by other, non-European forces that favour revisionism,” he added.
Greece has historically and actively supported the Western Balkan countries and their accession prospects, Dendias noted, “though always on the basis of the conditionalities, meritocracy and methodology of the EU.”
“We firmly believe that this is the only path for peace and stability in the region. Europe has an obligation to keep European enlargement on the table,” Nikos Dendias said.
The foreign minister said that Greece is ready to provide technical assistance and to support the efforts of the Western Balkans for EU accession but noted that “we must have fully consistent and good-faith implementation of the Prespes Agreement in order to have progress.”
“Two years after the Prespes Agreement came into force, we acknowledge that there has been a very great effort for its implementation. But, of course, greater progress is required,” he said.
This concentrated effort to consistently implement the use of the agreed name and terms by all public and private entities, including websites, and eradicate the problems of ancient symbols and the Vergina Sun from public spaces and for public uses, he noted.
“What is absolutely clear in the Prespes Agreement is clarity on what happened in antiquity,” Dendias said, pointing out that it was clear and has been accepted by North Macedonia that it was not part of the military campaign of Alexander the Great nor took part its major battles and other historic moments.
Dendias also highlighted the fact that Greece can be North Macedonia’s greatest ally and friend, as the country’s stability and prosperity was also in its own interests, while Greece has welcomed North Macedonia as an ally in Nato and patrols its skies. He also thanked the neighbouring country for aligning itself with the common EU position on Turkey, saying that this was noted and appreciated by Greece.
Referring to the three memoranda of understanding signed on Thursday (in diplomatic training, civil protection and investments between Enterprise Greece and Invest North Macedonia), he said these have taken bilateral relations one step further.
“We must further encourage trade and investments…as these can create new jobs and prosperity in both countries, but also the surrounding region,” he said. He said that Greece has made a great effort to provide support in terms of supplying North Macedonia with vaccines against SARS-Cov-2 in an EU framework, pledging to continue this effort.