"Exactly 19 years ago, at the Thessaloniki Summit, the way was opened for the Western Balkans to join the European family. Unfortunately, since then, the progress that has been made, in practice, is minimal. And I fully understand why there is a relative distrust in the countries of the Western Balkans surrounding the intentions of the European Union, truly, to include the countries of the Western Balkans in the European family," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday upon his arrival at the EU-Western Balkans summit.
"It is an opportunity to restart this process with even greater intensity. A necessary condition for this to happen is for the dispute between Sofia and Skopje to be finally resolved, so that the negotiations between North Macedonia and Albania on their accession process can officially begin," the prime minister added.
He also said that "Greece stands on the side of the Western Balkans, as the largest economy in the region, as a country that has reaped the benefits of joining the European family. It will support the Western Balkans in their quest to become members of the European Union. We know that for these countries, the process is difficult. There are specific conditions that must be met and this is something that the countries of the Western Balkans need to know. However, my view is that it is very important to give a specific milestone in order for this process to be completed."
Concluding his statement, Mitsotakis underlined: "My proposal to the European Council is for this milestone to be in 2033, thirty years after the Thessaloniki Summit, so that the Western Balkans and their citizens know that in the end they can really look forward to becoming part of the European family through this long process. Greece will stand by these states, in this difficult endeavor, in this long journey they have already started."