Summit talks up prospects of Western Balkans

Summit talks up prospects of Western Balkans

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday hailed the “new dynamic” that has developed in the Balkans in the last year that will enhance the regions’s prospects. 

Speaking at the fourth Quadrilateral Summit in Thessaloniki between the leaders of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, Tsipras said the positive outlook has been boosted by the recent name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and the European Union’s decisions to start accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro – and with Albania and FYROM next year. 

He also expressed his support for the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen Treaty. 

In a parallel meeting, the infrastructure ministers of the four countries discussed ways to expedite infrastructure and energy projects in the region – namely rail links between Thessaloniki, Kavala, Alexandroupoli and Burgas, as well as the one connecting Thessaloniki, Skopje and Belgrade. 

The IGB gas pipeline which will connect Greece and Bulgaria was also discussed, as well as the prospects of upgrading ports in northern Greece and the Black Sea. 

Tsipras said this wide range of links will upgrade the significance of the western Balkans. 

The Thessaloniki meeting is seen as an effort to coordinate the four countries’ positions on a number of key issues ahead of a meeting of the leaders of China and the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans in Sofia on Saturday and the Western Balkans Summit of the Berlin Process, which will be held in London next week. 

During the summit at the Hyatt Hotel in Thessaloniki, there was a protest march by people that oppose the name deal between Greece and FYROM.

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