Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis has stated that the position of Greece regarding the status of Kosovo remains unchanged and emphasized that Athens strongly supports the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the aim of reaching a comprehensive, legally binding agreement, in accordance with the international law and the EU acquis.
In an interview for BETA and Euractiv, Varvitsiotis also said that a firm, merit-based EU membership perspective for the Western Balkan countries is in the interest of the EU itself, but that at the same time it is a key incentive to transformations in the region.
He stressed that Greece fully supports all individual initiatives that could boost the region’s further progress and serve as a preparatory step on the path to EU membership, announcing that a Regional Balkan Forum will be held in Thessaloniki on Sept. 15.
When asked if the upgrading of the status of the Kosovo Office in Athens to a higher level leads to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, Varvitsiotis responded that, “As you are well aware of, Greece’s position regarding Kosovo’s status remains unchanged.”
“At the same time, it is widely known that Greece has pursued a constructive approach towards Pristina, in line with our strategic goal for reinforced stability and security in the Western Balkans. In this regard, Greece has been hosting an ‘Office of Trade and Economic Affairs of Kosovo in Athens’ since 2019, with the aim to facilitate our bilateral cooperation. Without implicating status-related issues, we have recently decided to rename it as ‘Office of Interests of Kosovo in Athens’,” the alternate foreign minister said.
He pointed out that Athens “Strongly support[s] the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and firmly believe[s] that implementation of what has already been agreed remains crucial.”
Varvitsiotis added that for Greece it is very important that “Serbia accelerate[s] its progress and become[s] a member of the European family as soon as possible.”
He also said that Greece believes that is where Serbia’s natural place is. “Serbia is a key partner of the European Union. The priority of the Serbian government for speeding up reforms on the European path with a special emphasis on the rule of law area, the fight against organized crime and corruption, is an important step in the right direction. In this context, we welcome the wise decision of the country to abide by the New Enlargement Methodology, which makes the enlargement process more credible, predictable, dynamic and subject to a stronger political steering,” he pointed out.
The alternate foreign minister further stated that “the timetable” for Serbia’s accession to the EU depends “on the speed and quality of reforms” and that, “Therefore, it is essential to keep up with delivering on its reform commitments and produce tangible results in their implementation.”
“The overall pace of EU – Serbia negotiations will continue to depend on reform progress, with a special emphasis on the rule of law chapters. Comprehensive normalization of relations with Pristina remains also a key element, regarding Serbia’s Negotiating Framework,” Varvitsiotis concluded.