“We build our common future based on the great potential of our peoples and on our common European vision for the region”

Δήλωση του Πρωθυπουργού στην Τετραμερή Σύνοδο Ελλάδας - Βουλγαρίας - Σερβίας - Ρουμανίας, στη Βάρνα της Βουλγαρίας.

I would like to express my great pleasure for being in Varna, a city with a significant Greek presence since the ancient times, and my pleasure to be with the leaders of three neighboring countries, amiable to Greece. All four countries together can play a very important role for peace, stability, progress, and co-development in the wider region.

The Balkans is a very crucial area for Europe. An area that in the past has, of course, created anxieties, wars, contrasts. Today, however, it can generate the hope for a new course of cooperation and co-development.

We have to face many important challenges. All four countries, together, can channel the power that each of us has towards one common purpose. Three countries of the European Union and one country entitled to its accession in the European Union.

Today, we discussed Boyko Borissov’s idea which we shared in Kavala during our previous meeting so that the next presidency, the Bulgarian presidency of the European Union, would actually be a Balkan presidency. And, of course, we also discussed how to use this Balkan presidency to revitalize the “Thessaloniki Agenda” of 2003 where the enlargement of the European Union was decided with the Balkan countries. And, of course, revitalizing the “Thessaloniki Agenda” means meaningful discussion of the Western Balkans’ accession course. This is a debate that must concern, first and foremost, the Balkan forces and in which we will obviously invite other important powers of the European Union and countries to make their own special contribution.

In this context, we discussed the possibility of organizing, within the framework of the Bulgarian presidency, a European Union-Western Balkans Summit.

I would like to emphasize that, in order to enable the European Union to play its international role, and thus to strengthen this role and its capacity to support democracy, stability and international law, it must first and foremost solve its own problems, the problems that concern itself. And it will be tested, first and foremost, in our neighborhood, in the Balkan neighborhood. In this sense, a number of crucial issues need to move forward within the framework of the dialogue.

As far as Greece is concerned, it will play a constructive role. I believe, for example, the reunification of the Republic of Cyprus, on the basis of a fair and viable solution, is one of the challenges that the European Union has to solve. The relationship of the European Union with the countries in the accession process, such as Serbia, is one of the issues that the European Union has to solve, and it must first solve its own issues so that it can play a serious role in the international arena.

And with regard to the accession course of the Balkan countries, I believe that it must be a course based on both conditionality and a new vision for the cooperation of the peoples in the wider region.

Therefore, we decided to work closely together in a number of fields such as the energy, the economy in general, transport, but also the crisis management, security, and the refugee crisis.

We discussed, and I will close with this, about major development projects in our region which if they are set in motion, they will change the image of the wider region. Allow me to say, for example, the TAP pipeline, the IGB vertical corridor, the Eastern Mediterranean pipelines, the Thessaloniki-Belgrade railway link, Thessaloniki-Rousse, and why not Bucharest. These are projects that I believe can reinvigorate the wider region.

Therefore, I strongly believe that this dynamic of quadruple cooperation can share a prospect and a future. I believe that our countries must work closely together to present the importance of cooperation concerning progress in the wider region. And I believe that our common future cannot be built on nationalism, as it has happened in the past in the Balkans, unfortunately, nor on third party plans for our region.

This shared future can be built, based on the great potential of our peoples, with respect to the international law and on a common European vision for our region.

With these thoughts, I warmly thank Boyko Borissov for the hospitality and say that I am, also, looking forward to the next third meeting, which we decided to be held in Belgrade.