There was a quarrel between Belgrade and Athens in July 2015 was slightly induced due to poorly worded and even worse transmitted statements by the then two prime ministers.
At the time, Greece did not block Kosovo’s admission to international organizations, including “security” ones, despite being a separatist Serbian province.
Serbia officially asked for clarification as this was understood to be support for Kosovo’s entry into NATO.
The Greeks then reminded of all the inconsistencies of Belgrade towards the Macedonian issue and its siding with Skopje.
Analysts assessed at the time that this attitude towards their interpretation was in line with the Brussels Agreement.
Serbia must not forget that Greece did not recognize Kosovo
There were also (correct!) comments about how Belgrade did not react similarly when others, and those who helped Albanian separatism, gave much harder and worse grades!
It turned out later that the extortion in which Greece found itself in after all the “internal breaks” and negotiations on financial consolidation, was used to pressure the Albanian sponsors on Athens to give in on the Kosovo issue.
According to the model – if you make such a concession, you will get more favorable conditions for austerity measures and debt repayment.
However, Tsipras’ cabinet did not succumb to American and German pressure!
Great pressure on Athens
Now the topic is being re-actualized, similar pressure mechanisms are being applied and the reason is different – hence the mention of France.
Among the most important issues for Greece is certainly the “delimitation” of East Mediterranean waters – on one side is Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel, and on the other Turkey.
The first group is supported by Paris.
Behind it all is the story of abundant natural gas deposits in this area, the rights to research, exploit and construct pipelines that would connect them with Western European markets.
From the moment when NATO, instead of human rights for the reason of its existence, put energy security in first place, things started to change in terms of strategic orientations and geopolitical aspirations.
American energy project
That is why Israel became the central topic during the September talks in Washington with Trump.
The Americans, taking care of the “Kosovo child”, pushed Tirana and its “younger brother” from Pristina into a “consortium” that will deal with the construction and use of the Eastern Mediterranean gas pipeline.
Realistically, the American project on the export of liquefied petroleum gas to Europe, and in order to compete with Russian energy sources, is difficult to achieve.
The new plan is seen in this regard as a realistic alternative.
The problem arose because of the fact that that Greece, Cyprus and Israel, did not recognize the false state of “Kosovo”.
The consequences of the Washington Agreement, regardless of the fact that its provisions are not binding, can still be defended from the legal point of view, and in the (geo)political sense remain long-term and harmful.
In order to “create a political environment”, Israel was the first to “pull the leg”, logically, those who planned everything think that Greece should continue through.
This is the reason why Greek diplomacy has become more active in establishing better political and economic relations with Pristina.
Will this lead to the recognition of an independent Albanian Kosovo-Metohija?
According to the alleged proposal for Serbian autonomy in Northern Kosovo and the special status of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Albanians would get visa liberalization and recognition from Greece!?
The head of the Liaison Office with Kosovo, Hrisula Aliferi, reiterated her official position, emphasizing that Greece:
“strives for the consolidation of peace, democracy and stability, security and economic development, as well as the rule of law in the Western Balkans, by establishing good neighborly relations by respecting international law.”
Greece faces new challenges
So far, it has been clear what is meant by “respect for the principles of international law” in Greece.
To change this attitude, all those weird interpretations of Resolution 1244 that came from Belgrade can be (mis)used.
If not already, then this unpleasant situation must teach us that the weight of what is used to strengthen the negotiating position must never and nowhere be relativized.
However, Greece faces much greater challenges and its position is fundamentally different from that of Israel.
First, there is Cyprus.
The eventual recognition of “Kosovo” would please the Turks the most, even more than the Albanians themselves.
Viewed from this angle, it is an adventure that can result in a catastrophic outcome for the other side.
Secondly, in some unfavorable outcome, during the serious problematization of relations with Turkey, Athens could not count on the sincere and undivided support of Western partners.
First of all, Germany through Nord Stream 2 solves its own issue of energy security and has no need to enter into new conflicts with Ankara due to the mentioned Eastern Mediterranean project.
And that changes the whole bill.
Third, American support for Pristina gave wings to Greater Albania’s ambitions, which are an equal threat to Greeks, as well as Serbs. In the long run, therefore, nothing is resolved by a new political decision.
Fourth, the experience after the Prespa Agreement shows that a mistake was made and that the survival of the “status quo” was more suitable for Greece.
North Macedonia did change its name, but it greatly strengthened the position of the Albanian factor and opened the door wide for the strengthening of Bulgarian influence.
The Bulgarian-Albanian strategic agreement endangers the geopolitical position of Greece.
There is no easy position
Very unpleasant pressures on Greece to change its position on the “Kosovo matter” have been going on for a long time, not since yesterday. Despite that, officially Athens remained firmly in the position of defending the principle.
Its “exit strategy” was finding “intermediate solutions” in which relations with Pristina were gradually normalized.
It must be kept in mind that its “bankruptcies” and “debts” are not small at all, nor was it simple.
Greeks and Serbs have a lot in common, including the notion that we are two fraternal peoples.
We are not in a comfortable position, neither of us – we are forced to make various compromises on different sides.
That needs to be understood and we must strive to maintain relations at a high level, and ensure fraternity does not spoil, otherwise, we will only make our enemies happy, who have been common to us throughout history!
Dušan Proroković is a columnist for Sputnik Serbia.