“The Western Balkans should look to the future, not the past,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday after meeting his Kosovo counterpart Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz during a visit to Athens.
There must be good relations with all the countries in the surrounding region, he said, adding that Europe and embracing the values of the enlightenment, such as democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law, was the only way forward.
“It is not possible to return to the 19th century, there is no possibility of choosing the neo-Ottomanism that seems to be appearing in our wider neighbourhood,” he added.
Dendias said that Greece will always support efforts to create bridges of cooperation and peace in the region and, as the first country of the Balkans to join the EU, felt obligated to help the entire region become part of the European family.
He expressed Athens’ support for the efforts of the EU representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, whom he is due to meet in Brussels on Monday, adding that Greece follows a constructive approach regarding Kosovo and appealing to the sides involved to do the same “in norder to find a legally binding, sustainable solution” that will help establish stability and boost the European course of the region.
Dendias also referred to the concern in Greece and the EU over the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a worrying rise of nationalism in the area.
Gërvalla-Schwarz reported an “excellent meeting between neighbours” and referred to the prospects for cooperation in areas such as the economy, culture and science. She noted that Kosovo was open to new investments and reported an increase in foreign direct investments and interest expressed by investors in Germany and other EU countries.
She said the two sides had agreed to explore the possibilities for further cooperation in the energy sector, such as the TAP pipeline.
She also expressed Pristina’s desire to establish normal and diplomatic ties with “all our freinds” and noted that Kosovo has been recognsied by the great majority of EU and NATO countries, as well as many members of the United Nations.