Greece and Serbia should expand bilateral relations in the “great opportunities” of the energy, transportation, and interconnectivity sectors, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said in joint statements after meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic in Athens on Tuesday.
Bilateral economic relations “are at a high level,” Dendias said, with Greek business owners having invested over 2.5 billion euros in Serbia and created at least 25,000 job openings, while defense collaboration is doing well but “we can do better in this sector,” as he noted.
Dendias reiterated Greece’s committed and steadfast support of the western Balkan countries’ accession path to the European Union and said the Mitsotakis government was ready to offer technical assistance if requested by Serbia. He also thanked the Serbian people for the firefighters they dispatched to help put out the destructive fires in August.
Among other issues they discussed, he said, was Kosovo – in which Greece supports the role of the special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina talks -, Greece’s support for the EU accession path of North Macedonia and Albania as long as the Prespes Agreement is observed in the former case, and the Bosnia-Herzegovina developments, which Greece is concerned about as the outstanding issues “threaten the fragile balance of the country itself and the entire region’s stability as well.”
“Greece is steadfastly opposed to centrifugal powers that would possibly hope to redesign our region’s map,” Dendias said, particularly noting “the influence of external factors who use a cover of development assistance and so-called historical, cultural, and religious traditions to promote extremist ideologies and a destabilizing agenda in the Balkans.”
The accession of the western Balkans in the EU “is the only path forward, in our opinion,” he added, and Greece will “continue to expend efforts and work” in this direction.
FM Selakovic statements
FM Selakovic said Serbia wanted to further expand relations with Greece, and described the meeting on Tuesday as continuing the strategic partnership agreement between the two countries.
He underlined the private meeting he held with Dendias in Belgrade in April, and noted the trilateral meeting including Cyprus, adding that “this new practice will continue soon.” In addition, Serbia is hoping to soon organize the 4th meeting of the High Cooperation Council with Greece in Belgrade, he said.
Trade between the two countries needs to improve as well, Selakovic said, and called on Greek business owners to continue their collaboration, which “Serbia supports.” He also noted the importance of the upcoming visit to Belgrade of Deputy Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Openness Kostas Fragogiannis, a visit also mentioned earlier by Dendias.
The Serbian FM also thanked Greece “for its support in relation to maintaining our territorial integrity in Kosovo, and support towards a resolution of this problem through dialogue for the normaliation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina under the aegis of the EU,” and noted Greece’s assumption of the presidency of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) for 2021-2022.