Foreign Minister Kotzias’ statements following his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci (Pristina, 14 July 2015)
N. KOTZIAS: I’m very touched to be here in Kosovo. We think that the most important story here in the Balkan region is to have stability, security, to bring hope to peoples throughout the Balkans, and to create relations of trust between everybody.
So I will express my great pleasure at being here in Pristina, and my discussion with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is well known that we are living in very difficult times, and geopolitics is becoming more important than in the past. As we say, we are living in the Balkans inside a triangle of destabilization. The top is Ukraine. On the left we have Libya, and on the right hand we have the Middle East: Iraq and Syria. And the stabilization of our region, of the Balkans, is our most important priority and is the only way to bring prosperity and development to Balkan countries.
I think that Kosovo and Greece are two parties that can create and develop all kinds of cooperation: peace, security and stability; We talked about the waves of refugees, migration, education and culture and the big networks that we are going to develop in the next ten years all over the Balkans.
The policy of Greece is a policy to include everybody, included Kosovo, in this future network of gas pipelines, railways, whatever, we will do together in this region. And for us it is very important to find ways for more cooperation on culture and education.
I have invited Mr. Thaci to come to Athens. We are waiting for him. We have made a decision to create an office of Kosovo in Athens. Our proposal was, wherever you like, Thessaloniki or Athens, and I see that Mr. Thaci likes and loves Athens.
We are supporting Kosovo to strengthen cooperation with the Euroatlantic structures and institutions. We were the first country in the Balkan region to join NATO and then the European Union. So we have the expertise, we have the capacities, and we can help whenever we are asked.
We talked about making close economic ties. In this context, I would like to express how satisfied we are at the good cooperation between Kosovo and the European Union on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. That’s very important for us.
The future belongs to the Balkans as part of this European architecture.
And, last but not least, I would like to say that we are supporting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia: a discussion creating more security, a step to peace for all the region.
So I have to express that I am very happy to be the first Minister of Foreign Affairs from Greece who comes here. And as I told your Prime Minister, the job of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is to open the door and all the others follow.
So, I’m waiting for you in Athens, and many thanks for the hospitality and conversation.
JOURNALIST: […] OFF MICROPHONE
N. KOTZIAS: Let me explain to you the way I think. I said to your Prime Minister before that Churchill was saying that in this region of the world, the Balkans, we are producing more history than we can consume. And I said to him, I am thinking in another way, saying that we have to use history, we have to learn from history. We have to step on history. But the danger is when we are becoming prisoners of history.
So, the most important thing for me is to create an atmosphere all over the Balkans for cooperation, security, stability. And in this framework, we are doing our best with Kosovo. We are supporting Kosovo to become a member of international organizations like Interpol and UNESCO. And we are ready to support it. We are supporting – and we were one of the first countries to support – the creation of links between the European Union and Kosovo. And we offer to Kosovo, whenever it needs it or wants it, our expertise and our capacities for cooperation with the European Union and NATO. And we are the oldest member of the European Union and NATO all over the Balkan region.
So, we have opened the way. We started, with the first visit of a Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs here in Kosovo. And about the recognition, I think that we have to think about it with two criteria. The one criterion is the needs of the whole region and the second is our national and European interest. We have to see in the future which kind of implementation we will make of these two criteria.