Greek FM Dendias: EU Integration of the Balkans a Strategic Goal for Greece

Αssociated Press

FILE- Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

PODGORICA, Montenegro - The EU integration of Montenegro and the integration of the rest of the Balkan countries is a strategic goal for Greece, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said during a visit to Montenegro on Wednesday, where he had a series of meetings with top officials.

After his meeting with Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdan Darmanovic, Dendias made the following statement:

"It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Podgorica today and discuss with my colleague, Srdan Darmanovic - but also with the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament - issues that have to do with the enhancement of our excellent bilateral relations, but also EU and regional affairs.

I have to say, there is room for improvement οn a number of fields in our already very good relations. We can enhance our cooperation on trade, energy, tourism, transport and research, also in view of Montenegro’s EU accession, which we hope will occur in the near future. If I may even say, in the very near future. Montenegro’s EU integration, as well as the integration of the rest of the Balkan countries, is a strategic goal for Greece. We see this as the best way to preserve peace, stability and prosperity in our region.

I would therefore, like to reiterate our readiness to further support your EU integration efforts, including through the implementation of the bilateral Memorandum of Cooperation on EU Issues.

In addition, in our efforts to rejuvenate the Enlargement Process, we will be hosting on February 24 in Thessaloniki, a ministerial conference with the participation of our Western Balkan partners and the neighboring EU-Member states.

Within NATO, we are looking forward to pursuing further paths in our already fruitful cooperation. That includes, among other things, the successful air-policing mission of Montenegro’s airspace, by us, alongside Italy.

In the same vein, we appreciate Montenegro’s efforts to enhance regional stability and co-operation.

Greece, on its part, has been proactive in implementing steps that will safeguard security and stability throughout the broader region.

We have chosen the path of respect for international legality and of good neighbourly relations. We hope to be followed on this path by all our neighbours, in the wider region."

On his part, the Darmanovic noted that "Greece has steadfastly supported the Western Balkans' European course and EU enlargement. It is, moreover, the country that initiated the enlargement process with the Thessaloniki 2003 agenda."

He also referred to the excellent relations between the two countries, adding that the meeting reaffirmed the will to continue on the path of European integration towards a full accession of the Western Balkans in the EU.

The two officials also discussed ways to strengthen economic cooperation, migration and the situation in Syria and Libya.

"We are looking forward to a strengthening of our cooperation in defence, networks, shipping, culture, education and investments" the Montenegrin minister said.