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George Gerapetritis: Greece Supports the Integration of the Western Balkans Into the EU

During his speech, which concluded the two-day Thessaloniki Summit – and which was organised by the Hellenic Industries Association and the Delphi Forum – the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Gerapetritis, said that Greece will always support in principle the enlargement of the EU towards the Western Balkans.

Gerapetritis stated that Greece understands “that the realisation of the European aspirations of the Western Balkan states is of particular importance. We cannot continue to disappoint the peoples by putting obstacles in the way”, adding that “the EU must also demonstrate more strongly the political will to integrate the Western Balkan countries into the European family, and the Western Balkan states must be persuaded to join the technical parts of the European acquis and in this way, we will achieve a

Europe that is exactly as we want it to be. A Europe of prosperity of peoples, good cooperation, peace, and reconciliation.”

Furthermore, Gerapetritis added that the EU and the governments of Western Balkan states “need to set a bold and ambitious end goal, which will be our guide, inspiration, and framework for action. Towards this end, we will continue to work with vigour and with the expectation that the European family will grow and revitalise in the foreseeable future.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs referred to the significance of Thessaloniki for the Western Balkans’ European aspirations; as he put it, “Thessaloniki will be the city that unites us.”

However, Gerapetritis also referenced Albania and the ongoing detention of the – elected mayor of Himara – Greek-Albanian Fredi Beleri. The Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that “there can be no discounts from democracy” and that “Mayor Fredi Beleri has been in temporary custody since May, two days before the local elections in Albania”, but remains in prison. Gerapetritis also added that the Greek government respects “Albania’s internal legal order” but has otherwise “asked for the obvious, which has nothing to do with judicial independence and nothing to do with the internal procedures, the judicial procedures, of the neighbouring country.”

The imprisonment of Fredi Beleri has become an incredibly contentious issue for Greek-Albanian relations, but there is no resolution in sight. To that end, the matter has also been raised at the European Parliament by Greek MEPs, while the Greek government has been continuously pushing for Beleri’s international release since the elected mayor’s imprisonment in May.

Source : neoskosmos