ATHENS — Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday participated in the online meeting of Berlin Process heads of state and government, of which Bulgaria and North Macedonia currently hold the chairmanship as a joint presidency.
According to sources, Mitsotakis repeated Greece's commitment to the Thessaloniki agenda and the support of the European prospects of Western Balkan countries.
"The transformation of the Western Balkans into a region of peace, stability, growth and prosperity is important, as much for Greece as for the European Union," the prime minister said.
He also highlighted crucial issues, such as the rule of law, respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, strengthening democratic institutions and upholding agreements as conditions for the accession course of the Western Balkans. In this context, he said that it was crucial to meet the enlargement criteria, including that of good neighbourly relations in accordance with international law.
Regarding the pandemic, the prime minister said this global health crisis showed the interdependency and the need for broader cooperation between the countries of the region, as well as with the EU.
Bulgarian leader backs Western Balkans nations joining EU
Addressing an EU enlargement summit Tuesday, Bulgaria's leader pledged his support for the Western Balkan countries on the path of being integrated into the European Union.
Bulgaria is one of the EU's 27 nations. Leaders of EU countries and of membership candidates Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo met in Sofia to discuss their accession prospects to the bloc at a so-called Berlin Process summit, jointly chaired by Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
Two action plans were adopted at the summit — one a common regional market and a green agenda for the region, which is following the same direction as the EU Green Deal – to unlock the renewable energy potential of the region while enhancing its citizens' health.
Both declarations, which aim to further bring the region in line with EU norms and standards, were signed online during the summit.
"Let's not forget that the Western Balkans together represent a market of about 20 million people. This will give prospects to young people who are emigrating at a rapid pace and will seek an adequate response to the demographic crisis, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said.
The Berlin Process, launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2014 to support the European integration of the Western Balkan countries, is focused on three main areas: economy and connectivity, reconciliation and good neighborly relations, and security.
The next summit will be held next year in the German capital, Merkel told participants at the end of the forum.