Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday addressed the Economist Conference taking place in southern coastal Athens, stressing that “the international landscape is constantly changing, crises can be turned into opportunities and the EU should not watch developments like an observer. Instead, it should be one of the players shaping developments and promoting its goals and values.”
Referring to Greece’s goals in the Balkans and regional stability, he said “Greece supports the EU integration of the western Balkans ... Greece’s EU presidency in 2014 will be dedicated to the speeding up of the process of integrating the western Balkan countries into the European family.”

He observed that this is an attainable goal and that the Greek EU presidency plans to hold an EU-western Balkan summit, adding that the clear European prospect of these countries will constitute a real incentive for the settlement of differences still existing in the area.

Droutsas said solutions to the Kosovo problem can be reached within the EU framework. 

Referring to discussions within the EU on so-called enlargement “fatigue”, Droutsas observed that “the costs in case no enlargement took place would have been greater,” adding that European unification will contribute to the promotion of security and stability in the Balkan region.

Commenting on developments in North Africa and the conflict in Libya, he underlined the need for a European plan for the region that will not be limited to offering financial assistance but will serve as an “investment” for peace and security in Europe.   

He also referred to the illegal migration flows from these regions that have already reached the southern borders of Europe and underlined that “this is not a problem that concerns only the European south, like Greece, it is a problem that escalates on European level.”

As regards the role of the European Union and the international community in handling the crisis in Libya and developments in the Arab World, Droutsas stated that the West should not appear as trying to impose its positions on the Arabs, stressing that efforts should respect the different peoples’ cultures.

On Libya, he repeated Greece’s position that the situation cannot be dealt with by using only military means, calling for a peaceful solution that will be reached through negotiations.

On his part, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic underlined that Serbia and Greece share the same views as regards the EU integration of the western Balkans.

Addressing the same Economist Conference in the seaside resort of Lagonissi, he said that “a bright future lies ahead for the Balkans in spite of the difficulties”, adding that “all roads should lead to a common future that will guarantee security and stability in the greater region.”

On Kosovo, he said a sincere dialogue is the only way to reach a consensus solution and voiced the wish that the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue will continue.