Exactly 19 years ago, at the Summit of Thessaloniki, the road for the integration of the Western Balkans into the European family had opened. Unfortunately, from that moment on, the progress that has been reported has been practically minor. And I totally understand why in the countries of the Western Balkans, there is a relevant distrust regarding the intentions of the European Union to actually integrate the Western Balkans into the European family.
This is an opportunity to restart this process with even greater intensity. A prerequisite for this to happen is to finally resolve the dispute between Sofia and Skopje, so that the negotiations between North Macedonia and Albania on their accession process can officially begin.
Greece stands by the side of the Western Balkans, as the largest economy in the region. As a country that has benefited from the advantages of joining the European family. It will support the Western Balkans in their effort to also become members of the European Union. We acknowledge that, for these countries, the process is difficult. There are specific prerequisites that need to be met and this is something that the Western Balkans need to know.
However, I believe that it is very important to set a specific timetable in order for this process to be completed. My proposal to the European Council is that this landmark should be 2033, meaning thirty years following the Summit of Thessaloniki, so that the Western Balkans and their citizens know that by the end of this long process they can really look forward to becoming members of the European family. Greece will stand by the side of these countries, in this difficult effort, in this long journey they have already started.