What will Pristina's officials do in Athens if Greece does not recognise Kosovo?

Albin Kurti, Kyriakos Mitsotakis Athens

Former diplomat Zoran Milivojević does not see the invitation of the Greek Prime Minister to attend a working dinner in Athens with the leaders of the countries of the region and representatives of Pristina as another obstacle on the way to the Greek recognition of Kosovo as an independent country, but as a confirmation of Greece's interest in playing an active role in the Balkans and to compete with Turkey and others influences in the region.

He mentioned diplomatic rule - never say never, that everything is possible due to tremendous pressure on Greece, especially from the US. He also notes that the recognition of Kosovo by Greece in the long term, strategically speaking, would be harmful to its state and the national question, mainly because of the status of Cyprus and the Greeks there.

Pristina also received an invitation to Athens.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will organise an informal dinner for regional leaders today, in which Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić will also participate, Tanjug announced.

At the meeting, which will be held in Maximos Palace, the region's expansion and the European future will be discussed, as well as energy security in the Balkans and Southeast Europe.

In addition to Vučić, also present at the dinner will be President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; the President of the European Council, Charles Michel; President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović; the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačeski; the President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Borjana Kristo; and the Prime Minister of Pristina's separatist institutions, Aljbin Kurti.

The leaders of the countries of the region that are members of the EU will also participate in the meeting - the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Nikolaj Denkov, Croatia's Andrej Plenković and Romania's Ion-Marcel Colaku, while the President of Slovenia and the President of Albania are prevented from coming.

The invitation to Pristina was sent even though Greece is one of the five countries of the European Union that does not recognise the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo. What is the motive for that, especially when it is seen that at the end of April, Greece did not oppose but abstained during the vote on the request of Kosovo for the Council of Europe to start the procedure for its admission to membership?

Milivojević reminds us that, both before the recent parliamentary elections and now, the policy of this Mitsotakis government is active in building informal relations with Pristina. Among the EU members that did not recognise Kosovo, it is the most dynamic and has gone the farthest.

Greece wants to counter Turkish influence

"They raised the level of the office they have in Pristina to the level of the embassy itself. The Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Pristina twice last year and this year, so Greek politics has an active attitude towards Kosovo as an entity, even though it has not recognised it as a state," said the former diplomat.

Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis has confirmed that even after the new government's election, Greece will not change its position regarding the recognition of so-called Kosovo.

Milivojević notes that Greece has also appointed a special advisor for the region, showing its interest in playing an active role.

"This circle of countries that Mitsotakis has now invited unequivocally confirms that Greece attempts to match Turkish and other regional influences to assert itself as a critical EU member state. Bearing that it is a close associate of the United States, one should also see some American interest in the area, that through Greece it may control the performance of other factors, Russia, China, and Turkey," he said.

Cyprus as a motif

The former diplomat believes whether Greece will jump to recognise Kosovo is unrealistic.

"After the election, this government made it clear that it will not change its position and is now being tested, but that does not mean that there will not be such an active relationship as this one is now and as Mitsotakis is now planning. What should also be kept in mind is that Greece is the only country that does not have a direct reason for not recognising Kosovo. Still, its main motive and reason for not remembering is the Greek national issue and Cyprus," Milivojević said.

Namely, after Turkey invaded the north of that island, the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was recognised by no one in the world except Turkey.

Milivojević is convinced that the Greek interest will prevail in this issue and that Athens will remain firm in not recognising Kosovo because otherwise, it would create problems for the Greeks in Cyprus, i.e. the Republic of Cyprus. Still, it would also strategically harm Greece's state and national issues.

The Balkans is the only space for the affirmation of Greece

Milivojević believes that the Balkans remains the only space to affirm Greek interests.

"This call to Kurti is primarily to affirm the Greek position and interests in these areas and an attempt to involve Greece in a possible outcome actively. Greece has no other space for performance and affirmation of its strategic interests except South-Eastern Europe and the Balkan area, to possibly match its main rival Turkey, but also to strengthen its position within the EU and NATO," said Milivojević.

When asked whether, due to the good relations between Athens and Belgrade, the US will pressure Greece to influence Belgrade to resolve the Kosovo issue as soon as possible, which America cares about, he says that Greece can only act within the framework of what is the EU font. But when it does not recognise Kosovo and adheres to that principle, it cannot act differently on Belgrade in this regard, Milivojević is convinced.

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