Greece confirmed its leading role in the Balkans and restored its reputation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, after the conclusion of the summit of the Cooperation of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and China held in Dubrovnik.
“Our country confirmed today its leadership role in the greater region of the Balkans, and in East and Central Europe,” Tsipras said. “We are gaining lost ground and we are using the economic and trade opportunities our geographic location provides us,” he noted.
At the end of the works of the summit of the Collaboration also known as ’17+1 Initiative’, Tsipras said that Greece is a hub of connectivity in the region, and a pillar of stability, security and collaboration in the Northeast Mediterranean, especially following the signing of the Prespes Agreement.
“Greece was a country in default four years ago, the black sheep of Europe, with no access to great and critical challenges and developments in the area, and fighting with its neighbors,” Tsipras noted. “Today it is a country everyone recognises, it has exited the great economic difficulty and memoranda, and has reclaimed its access to the markets,” he underlined, pointing out that on Thursday the Greek ten-year state bond registered a historic low since 1997. “We have the cheapest access to markets in our history,” he noted.
The Greek prime minister also pointed out that Greece had an opportunity it never capitalised upon: “Greece should have been a member of this Cooperation since 2012.” The reason Greece could not participate was that “China and the other 16 countries had welcomed our northern neighbors in this initiative under their former, constitutional name,” he said, referring to North Macedonia’s former name. “Greece obviously could not participate,” he said, adding that “everyone in Greece believed that because we would not recognise that country with its constitutional name, everyone else would follow us – the contrary was true.”
The Prespes Agreement, he said, restored a historical inaccuracy and allowed Greece to attend the 17+1 Initiative summit, along with the Republic of North Macedonia, its new name, “which obviously contains a geographic qualifier and reference, distinguishes history, and puts things in order.” Greece’s addition to the participating countries provides a particular depth to the Initiative’s economy and interconnectivity sector, he pointed out.
DUBROVNIK D. Manolis