There has to be cooperation between the armed forces of the Balkan countries in order ensure peace and stability in the region, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday in his address to the annual meeting of Balkan chiefs of defence and general staff (11th Balkan Countries CHODs Conference) held in Athens.
Only in this way can the Balkans act as a bridge between East and West, Pavlopoulos said, while underlining Greece’s steadfast support for the European course of Balkan countries and repeating the conditions for joining, as laid out by the European Union and the community acquis.
Pavlopoulos noted that these conditions boiled down to a basic three: firstly, that those wishing to join the European family must not only preach but also deeply believe in peace and peaceful coexistence with other EU countries; secondly, that they respect history and historical truth, which was necessary for peaceful coexistence; and lastly, that they sincerely respect the entire body of international law and the fundamental values of the European acquis.
“These are self-evident conditions which I am certain you all share…the Balkan nations have bitter past experiences. It is time we learned from them and worked together in our difficult and troubled times,” he added.
Greeks were well aware, Pavlopoulos said, that “the things uniting us are many more than those that can divide us” and that only through peaceful coexistence would the Balkans be able to carve out their own role in the wider European framework.
“In this framework, Greece extends a hand of friendship and good neighbourliness to all Balkan countries…We say this with love but also concern. The challenges are many and the responsibilities are great. Even greater is our potential, provided that we can divine the message of the times and the deeper concerns of our people,” he said.
The conference brings together the chiefs of defence/general staff of Greece, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Serbia and Turkey.