Nearly 13 years after declaring independence, Greece is signaling that it will soon break the biggest political barrier with Albanians, recognizing Kosovo as an independent state.
Reports come from Serbian and Greek media, which write that the United States seems to have increased pressure on Greece to recognize Kosovo’s independence before talks with Serbia begin in June.
Also, the recognition of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia is mentioned in a strategy drafted by France, which as reported by Serbian media has proposed the formation of an autonomous republic of Northern Kosovo, in exchange for recognition by Athens, and visa liberalization.
Citing diplomatic sources, Serbian media write that the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, is putting pressure on Prime Minister Qiriako Mitsotakis.
As Serbian media “Vesti” writes, Biden has made it clear to Mitsotaki that “it is important for Washington that Athens recognizes Kosovo’s independence before the ongoing dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade in Brussels, which is scheduled for mid-June.”
According to her, Biden is putting economic pressure on Greece. The article also says that America is supplying Greeks with financial aid, military investment and new loans.
The daily says that if Greece recognizes Kosovo, Spain, Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia are likely to follow suit. “However, experts also warn that if Greece succumbs to US pressure and recognizes Kosovo, Serbia should launch a campaign against its recognition,” Vesti said. “The United States insists that the time has come for Athens to finally join the more than 100 countries that recognize Kosovo’s independence.”
According to international affairs expert Akri Çipa, who works in Brussels, recognizing Kosovo would enhance Athens’ diplomatic influence throughout the Western Balkans, thus taking the lead in the region it has been seeking for years. According to him, with the recognition of Kosovo, Greece would offer an important contribution to regional peace and stability and would undertake an important gesture to nurture closer Greek-Albanian ties.
“Greece has the opportunity to contribute to breaking the current stalemate and injecting positive energy that can help facilitate conflict resolution. Such an action would surely be welcomed by most Western countries, as well as the EU institutions.
The recognition of Kosovo by Athens is in line with the US position. Above all, the moment is right. As part of the commitments made during the White House summit last September, Serbia has vowed not to lobby other countries against recognizing Kosovo for a year. “The establishment of Kosovo-Israel ties set an important precedent and Athens would be wise to learn from Tel Aviv,” said Chipa.
According to him, after the recognition by Greece, the independence of Kosovo would be recognized later by Cyprus,
Cyprus’s opposition to Kosovo’s independence is based on the Turkish occupation of the northern third part of the island: the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), created after a coup in 1974 in an attempt to annex the island to Greece.
While there has been limited engagement between Nicosia and Pristina in recent years, Cyprus remains opposed to recognizing Kosovo until an agreement is reached between Pristina and Belgrade and approved by the United Nations.
But Greece’s stance on Kosovo is a guiding decision for Cyprus. Athens runs an informal embassy, known as the Greek Liaison Office, in Pristina, and Greek officials have repeatedly stated their support for Kosovo’s integration into the European Union, taking a much softer stance than other non-Kosovo member states. Also, it is not the only one of the five countries that has a liaison office in Pristina.
International policy experts say they do not expect the five European Union countries that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence to change their position, except Greece.
Greece will most likely recognize Kosovo. The wall created by the 5 states that do not recognize it will collapse soon, after Greece or any other country decides to recognize Kosovo. “Greece proposed in the ‘Agenda 2014’ for the deepening of the Euro-Atlantic integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans.
“Although I hope that Greece will change its approach to Kosovo, we can not ignore its close ties with the Serbian state, the latter Greece strongly supports to join the European Union,” said US expert David Phillips in a interview for the media in Kosovo
Although there is no official confirmation of Serbian media reports, Greece has recently increased its diplomatic engagement with Kosovo, urging Prime Minister Albin Kurti to strengthen bilateral relations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of Kosovo, Donika Gërvalla, accepted the invitation of Greece for an official visit to Athens only a week ago.
Greece is one of the five European Union countries that has not yet recognized Kosovo, but has its Liaison Office in Pristina. Apart from Greece, Kosovo’s independence has not been recognized by the EU members: Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania and Spain.
The invitation for Gërvalla’s visit to official Athens was made through the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Kosovo, Chryssoula Aliferi, during a meeting on April 15, with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti.
In this meeting, Kurti asked Aliferi for Greece to join the states that have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but according to the position of official Athens, which was published on the website of the Liaison Office in Pristina, the issue of recognition depends on the result. of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of Kosovo states that Pristina and official Athens already have good bilateral relations and adds that “Kosovo is very interested in deepening inter-institutional cooperation with Greece.”
The ministry also gave a strong signal a week ago that Kosovo is optimistic about recognizing independence, given the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries. “We believe that this friendly approach should result in the accession of Greece to other EU countries that have recognized Kosovo. “Furthermore, we are working to deepen bilateral relations in the field of economy, culture, but also in other areas that are important for both countries,” said the ministry.
In its political stances towards Kosovo, Athens has stated that it “fully supports the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, under the mediation of the EU, and stressed that Greece has supported Kosovo in membership in international organizations and in the decision on visa liberalization.” SI)