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Dendias wades in on future of West Balkans

Dendias wades in on future of West Balkans

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias insisted Thursday that “neo-Ottomanism” cannot be the future of the Western Balkans.

Dendias’ comments after meeting with his Kosovan counterpart Donika Gervalla-Schwarz in Athens were seen as a clear reference to Turkey and its efforts to reinforce neo-Ottoman trends in the wider region as the recent visits by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Albania and Serbia in recent days would suggest.

Referring to relations with Kosovo, Dendias stressed that Athens wants to strengthen relations with Pristina, and cited the recent decision to upgrade the Kosovo office in the Greek capital to an Economic and Commercial Affairs Office.

He also conveyed Athens’ will to interconnect the Western Balkans with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a section of the Southern Gas Corridor, while reiterating Greece’s firm commitment to the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union.

Moreover he also expressed support for the visa liberalization for Kosovans as the criteria set out in the roadmap have been met.

At the same time he noted the “particularly worrying developments in the wider region of the Western Balkans.”

More specifically, he said that Greece and the EU are concerned about the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that “the rise of nationalism, the destabilizing tendencies… seem to be threatening our region again.”

The situation in the Western Balkans will also be discussed in a visit today by Dendias to Croatia, where he will meet with his counterpart Gordon Radman.

Dendias will also visit Belgrade on January 28 with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to participate in the High Council for Cooperation between Serbia and Greece.

Greece supports the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, but the visit next Friday is seen as an opportunity to rekindle Greek-Serbian relations, which have recently been put to the test.