Notis Marias: Greece can, and must, play a leading role in the Balkans

Αthens, 31/7/2017.


We send to you this article by Notis Marias:

Notis Marias, President of the Party GREECE-THE OTHER WAY, Europarliamentarian, Professor of European Institutions at the University of Crete

The emerging realignments on the geopolitical chessboard in the wider area of the Balkans provide, for the first time in many years, a new opportunity for our country to play an authentically leading role in the anticipated developments.

The USA undertook powerful penetration in the Balkans in the 90s, breaking up Yugoslavia, and naturally we should not forget that the EU, and particularly Germany and Austria, with the foreign policy they pursued in the 1990s, have a huge responsibility for the fragmentation of Yugoslavia and the war that broke out in the region, leaving thousands dead.

Today the EU and the USA have an obvious interest in developments in the Balkans, but events are moving so quickly that it is not easy to predict what the new geopolitical equilibria will be that will emerge from them.

The recent strengthening of Putin’s Russia, which is now not only a key player on the chessboard of Syria and the Middle East but a factor that has re-emerged with steadily increasing influence in the Balkans as well, is something that must be taken into consideration.

Washington is clearly bent on settling some outstanding accounts in the Balkans and at the same time trying to prevent Moscow from increasing the influence that it has retained in certain areas.

In recent articles we analyzed what has taken place in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia, but also developments in Albania and FYROM, highlighting the great geopolitical volatility that now prevails in the Western Balkans. We drew attention in these articles to the mistaken policy of the EU, which demands de facto recognition of Kosovo on the part of Belgrade and so, apart from everything else, contributes to strengthening the Albanian nationalism that was reinforced by the electoral victory of Rama in Albania, intensifying the persecution of the Greek national minority in Northern Epirus and encouraging the Chams to continue their provocations.

Apart from the abovementioned developments, the evolving situation in FYROM must be taken into serious consideration, with the opportunity it presents today for Greece to clarify that in the case of the state with the current provisional name of FYROM, it is not prepared to accept a denomination including the word “Macedonia”.

The stabilizing role that Athens, Belgrade and Sofia are called upon to play is in this way reasserted, in opposition to the irresponsible, provocative and historically ignorant stance of both Tirana and Skopje.

The history of Greece is inextricably interwoven with the history of the Balkans, given that Greece is part of this region. And Greece has played a leading role, throughout history, in all developments in the Balkans.

It is up to us to project the strategic role of Greece in the Balkans and intervene for our benefit in the present geopolitical situation.

What is required is an integrated national plan, to take advantage of Greece’s potential in the field of energy, both as a transit hub and as a prospective energy producer, with the national interest as its hallmark.

In Thessaloniki on 13th July (2017) a three-day meeting was held of leaders of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, on the model of the countries of the Visegrad group, with energy, transport and tourism as key agenda items.

The discussions were focused above all on the TAP, IBS and IGB pipelines. The IGB pipeline is to extend from Alexandroupolis into Bulgaria and further extension of the pipeline into Serbia via the IBS is also under examination.

Unfortunately, on the subject of the Russian South Stream pipeline, the Greek government has capitulated to the demands of the USA and the EU.and is acting against the national interest. The subject of the significant contribution to the prosperity and stability of the Balkans potentially offered by the construction and utilization of the South Stream, a pipeline with a capacity of 65 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually, was not raised during the three-day meeting.

The economic and political role of Greece in the Balkans is directly linked to the country’s economic prospects, and within the parameters of the national plan a clear and practical strategy must be devised for strengthening the entrepreneurial capability and outward-looking orientation of the Greek economy. Trans-border business initiatives are necessary in the Balkans with a dynamic leading role for Greek enterprises.

Appropriate multi-faceted geopolitical and economic collaboration anchored in the Greek national interest and in development of the Greek economy can help to foster a leading, and stabilizing, role for Greece in the Balkans, discouraging the illicit irredentist policies of Tirana and Skopje.

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