“We remain loyal and committed to its principles Thessaloniki Declaration of 2003Greece will remain an ardent supporter of the integration of the countries of the Western Balkans into the European family, it is mutually beneficial, historically necessary”, emphasized the Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Gerapetritis, during his speech that concluded the two-day work of the THESSALONIKI SUMMIT, organized by Association of Greek Industries and the Delphi Forum.

“We understand that the realization of the European ambitions of the Western Balkan states is of particular importance. We cannot continue to disappoint the people by setting up obstacles. The European Union should also show more strongly the political will for the integration of the Western Balkan countries in the European family and respectively the states of the Western Balkans to cooperate in the technical parts of the European acquis and in this way to end up in a Europe which will be exactly as we seek it. A Europe of people’s well-being, good cooperation, tranquility and settlement” , said the minister and continued with a proposal from the Declaration of Athens, of August 21, 2023, saying: “We must set a bold and ambitious final goal, which will be our guide, inspiration and framework of action. In this direction we will continue to operate with vigor and with the expectation that in the foreseeable future the European family will grow and be revitalized. And always, in this context, Thessaloniki will be the city that unites us”.

“Greece has always been the country that has embraced the project of integrating the Western Balkans in the European family more than anyone else.

We will always be here to support the countries of the Western Balkans to find their natural path, the path that opened here in 2003 from the welcoming city of Thessaloniki with the “Thessalonica Agenda” and today, 20 years later, continues with the same persuasion. Perhaps at a slower speed than we would all like, but certainly with a great fervor,” the Foreign Minister emphasized.

A common front to counter revisionism:

Mr. Gerapetritis referred to the issue of revisionism, saying that the period we are going through “tends to become normal” and that this challenge should be faced by all of us and especially by the countries that have common origins.

The list of prerequisites for joining the EU should be clear.

“We remain in the political position that the European family should integrate the Western Balkans, but on the other hand that we should also have the satisfaction of the conditions required for a European Union which will be strong and resilient, inclusive, but and a European Union which will be revitalized”, he pointed out.

At the same time, he emphasized that there should be a joint prioritization between the European Union and the countries of the Western Balkans, so that the list of prerequisites is clear, as there are principles and criteria.

For the Beleri reservation: There can be no discounts from the republic

Mr. Gerapetritis made a special reference to Albania and the ongoing detention of the elected mayor of Heimarra Freddy Beleris and remarked that “there can be no discounts from democracy”.

“Mayor Fredi Beleri has been under temporary detention since May, two days before the self-government in Albania and is currently in prison,” the foreign minister said, adding: “With all due respect to the internal legal order of Albania, the Greek government asked for the obvious, which has nothing to do with judicial independence and nothing to do with the internal, judicial procedures of the neighboring country.

He asked for the swearing-in of the elected mayor in such a way that the political will expressed in the May elections would be reflected in political action.

It is not a question of judicial action and it is not a question of any outside intervention either.

It is an administrative act which should be carried out and the due respect for civil rights and the rule of law”.