‘Permanent dialogue can serve as instrument of lasting coexistence’

There are serious political differences between some of the states in the region, such as Greece and FYROM and Serbia and Kosovo. How can the RCC help them find a compromise solution? This is a region of such strong historical memories and diversity of ethnic, religious, social and cultural patterns and habits that the only way to live in peace is to find a way to live with diversity, to learn not to search always for «final solutions,» but to learn to develop a permanent dialogue as an instrument of lasting coexistence. No two SEECP countries are without some kind of recent or deeply inherited problems… This is why EU enlargement is so important to all the SEE countries. If we allow the continuation of the present state of play, or if the region deviates from the Euro-Atlantic path of integration, we will be the greatest victims. History teaches us that disunity in Europe always takes the highest toll in the Bal-kans, in Southeastern Europe. There is also Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. Some countries in the region have not recognized it; Serbia speaks of an unlawful act. How can Kosovo integrate in a distrustful atmosphere and how can the RCC prevent independence claims from minorities in other parts of the region? I do recognize the sensitivity of the Kosovo issue for Serbia, but also in terms of concerns at the broader international level. Take for example the recent developments in Russian-Georgian relations against the background of the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Historical realities have always created historical configurations and environments. The region will have to adjust to the new situation and to the new realities. My best advice is to try to cope with it, taking into account the long-term strategic vision of Southeastern Europe. The RCC will also be faced with challenges as there are different positions and decisions relating to Kosovo’s declaration among the SEECP participants. But this only underlines the need for dialogue, for the enhancement of political culture, mutual understanding and respect, even when differences are evident. I am more than appreciative of the fact that Serbia continues to be actively engaged in the RCC and that regional cooperation remains one of its foreign policy priorities. Given that Greece has always belonged to the Western bloc, unlike many of the other RCC member states, can Greece’s role be more influential? Greece is one of the most active and prominent players in the region. Greece is the oldest EU member in the region, thus leading the way. But it is not about the «Western bloc» or any other bloc. It is about the new Europe, undivided, democratic and free, where alliances are no longer forged around a set of ideologies, but around the common values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, market economy and social rights. This is where Greece’s role is important, because Greece is the first SEE country that institutionally accepted these values through EU membership. Even the RCC Secretariat in Sarajevo is located in the building of the joint Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions, which was reconstructed through the donation of the Greek government, as another demonstration of Greece’s dedication to regional development.

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