At the end of the summit, the participants declared their unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within that country’s recognized borders. They called for accelerating the Western Balkan countries’ process to join the European Union. From the point of view of the summit, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a pivotal point for Europe, which creates a new level of awareness of common principles, unity, and a common future in the European Union. This is a critical moment for the European continent’s security, peace, and stability. The rules and principles that, for a long time, contributed to a stable and predictable security order in Europe have now been violated. They are once again witnessing the disastrous consequences of revisionism.
In the face of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, the participants declared their unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within the internationally recognized borders of that country based on the values of democracy and the rule of law. During their talks in Athens, the parties also expressed their support and appreciation for the serious efforts of the president of Ukraine to determine the principles of peace in accordance with the United Nations Charter. They welcomed the efforts of the United Nations General Assembly to promote a comprehensive, just, and sustainable peace in Ukraine.
The participant countries emphasized that there is no immunity for war crimes and other crimes, such as attacks on civilians and destruction of infrastructure, and that all those responsible for such measures must be held accountable. The escalation of the war against Ukraine has revealed the urgent need for a strong and inclusive European Union as a cornerstone of peace and prosperity among peoples in such difficult times. In this summit, the participants emphasized that the Western Balkan, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova, which are geographically adjacent to the EU member states, have a common European heritage, history, and future defined by common opportunities and challenges. In line with the strategic investment for European peace, security, and stability, it is important that those regions are accepted as full members of the European family.
The meeting members discussed how to realize this dream of Europe. They emphasized the importance of realizing the dream of a European Union enriched with Western Balkan countries, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova and the necessity of reviving and reorienting the expansion process of the European Union. The parties announced their commitment to support Ukraine and Moldova in taking the next steps in the process of joining the EU after completing the necessary reforms.
The aforementioned meeting was important for the diplomacy of Athens in several ways. Greece tried to show that it plays a central role as an agent of stability, peace, and energy security in the region. Greece claims it has become a player in international and European developments in the past four years, a completely exaggerated view.
On the sidelines of the summit of the Balkan countries, the prime minister of Greece met with the prime ministers of Croatia, Kosovo, and Romania, Mrs. Maia Sandu, the President of Moldova, the head of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the heads of state of Serbia, Moldova, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
During the prime minister’s meeting with the president of Serbia, the parties discussed the priorities of bilateral cooperation while emphasizing the high level of relations between Athens and Belgrade. According to Greek sources, the country’s prime minister reiterated Greece’s stable support for the accession process of Serbia to the European Union and evaluated it as the best guarantee for the prosperity and stability of the region.
During the meeting of the prime minister of Greece with Mrs. Sandu, the President of Moldova, they discussed the prospect of strengthening bilateral relations. The Greek side reiterated its support for the accession of Moldova to the European Union, which was announced in the joint statement of the Athens Summit (August 21). The Greek side informed the president of Moldova that Greece plans to open its embassy in that country in the near future.
The significant absentee of the meeting of the Balkan countries was Mr. Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, who was not invited to the meeting. By not inviting the prime minister of Albania, Greece sent a clear message to Tirana and Brussels that Greece will not accept any measure that is against its national interests or is not in line with European standards. Athens had announced to all parties that Albania had crossed the red line by arresting the member of the Albanian Greek minority and the mayor of one of the Greek-populated regions.
This measure is done in response to the arrest of a member of the Albanian Greek minority and the mayor of the area in question. Due to the arrest of the members of that minority group, the relations between the two countries have become tense. This measure of Greece is a clear message to the Albanian side that Athens does not support the process of joining Albania to the European Union if the arrest of a member of the Greek minority continues and Tirana ignores the principles of human rights and the rule of law. Last week, the prime minister of Albania accused the Greek side of interfering in the affairs of his country’s judicial system. The foreign minister of Greece claimed that due to Albania’s disregard for the rule of law, the principle of acquittal, and respect for civil rights, it was not possible for that country to join the European Union.
Not inviting the Albanian prime minister met with his cautious reaction. He emphasized that the region needs more Greek participation. As he had publicly stated many times to Greek officials, including the prime minister, he profoundly believes that Greece has a natural role in the Balkans due to the experience of being a member of the European Union. He said he understands the pressure of others who are willing to take any opportunity to turn a small obstacle into a mountain. But, he added, they have much more significant challenges ahead and real mountains to climb. What should unite them in such turbulent times for people, countries, regions, and Europe is greater than what separates them.