Thessaloniki has been called «the metropolis of the Balkans.» Do you see it as such? Given its geographical location, Thessaloniki should be the center of the Balkans. But the basic prerequisite is the creation of a cross-border area, reconnecting the Balkans. I know that some attempts have been made in this direction with Bulgaria. However, given the history and politics of FYROM, I don’t think Thessaloniki has achieved much in terms of linking up with the neighboring countries. Balkan center Another important step, perhaps the most important, is the relations of Thessaloniki and Athens with Istanbul. Istanbul has already developed into the center of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and central Asia. If Turkey joins the EU, it will be the largest country in the region and Istanbul will be the largest city. So the relations of Thessaloniki and Athens with Istanbul is one of the biggest issues of the future. It doesn’t matter so much whether Thessaloniki is the leading city; what does matter is creating an evolving intra-urban, intra-regional networks. Do you believe there is a danger that Istanbul will dominate the Balkans? Certainly, but we’re not talking about a danger. Istanbul’s economy is already dominant. I believe there is room for both cities. But it will be very difficult for Thessaloniki to compete with Istanbul for the most important economic roles. This is not an achievable goal, but if we take into account the structure of the world, of the EU, and the political events that may occur in the future, I think there will be stiff competition. We have Athens prevailing in one direction, Istanbul in the other, and Belgrade developing rapidly. For Thessaloniki to strengthen its position, it must develop its strategic points – it must recreate its regional hinterland in relation to FYROM and Bulgaria, and perhaps to Albania, Montenegro and even Kosovo. This is the greatest challenge. If its development remains within Greek borders, then Thessaloniki will not manage to compete with Athens or Istanbul.