Stergios Pitsiorlas: Solving the Balkans’ political problems a prerequisite for region’s growth
The solution of the political problems in the Balkans is a prerequisite for the region’s growth, Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas noted at the Balkans and Black Sea Cooperation Forum on Friday.
The Balkans, he said is a crossroads and a meeting point of the geopolitical goals of the major European powers, the EU, America and Russia, and recently also China.
“Today, Greece must balance between all these parameters as a member of the EU and NATO, while at the same time, due to COSCO’s presence, acting as the main gateway for Asian products to Europe, and having friendly and religious ties with Russia and, at the same time, a difficult relation with neighbouring Turkey, even if we are partners in NATO,” said Pitsiorlas.
“If we do not find a technical way to coexist and don’t find a good outlet for these goals, I do not believe we will succeed,” he said.
He explained that a solution to the issue of FYROM’s name is a condition for implementing a major part of Greece’s connectibility; in order for the port of Thessaloniki to become a “Europort” with links to the Danube, which will be connected to the specific port via the navigable Axios river. Pitsiorlas noted that this was a European plan that has not made progress but if Greece can solve its differences with FYROM, this will create a central corridor from the Mediterranean to central Europe. Unless the Belgrade-Budapest railway line reaches Thessaloniki and Piraeus, he added, it will never be fully complete.
There have to be initiatives to turn competition into cooperation. This is obviously a difficult process but this is the way. Greece can contribute through its ports to providing an exit to the Mediterranean, a link with the Black Sea ports, as Greece has done until now with Bulgaria for the road and rail networks but first of all we must match our policies in a strategy that will be beneficial for all “To stop seeing ghosts and fears but a positive growth prospect for the region,” he concluded.