Eleven leaders of Balkan countries, including Greece,meeting in Athens expressed their “unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, based on the values of democracy and rule of law” in the face of Russian aggression on Monday night.
After an informal dinner held by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the eleven leaders issued the Athens Declaration statement. According to the statement, “there can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities,” and all those responsible must be held accountable.
In the presence of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, they underlined “the importance of setting…a target for the completion of the vision of an EU enriched with the Western Balkans, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.”
Balkan leaders support Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders
“We, President Aleksandar Vučić, President Maia Sandu, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Jakov Milatović, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister Ion-Marcel Ciolacu, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers Borjana Krišto, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski, Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, in the presence of the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, met in Athens today, twenty years after the historic EU-Western Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, and issued the following statement:
1. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a pivotal moment for Europe, creating a new level of awareness of shared principles, unity and a common future within the EU. This is a critical time for the security, peace and stability of our European continent. The laws and principles that contributed to a stable and predictable European security order for so long have been violated and we witness anew the manifestation of the disastrous effects of revisionism.
2. In the face of Russian aggression, we express our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, based on the values of democracy and rule of law.
3. In our discussions in Athens today, we expressed support and appreciation for the earnest efforts by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in setting out the principles for peace in line with the UN Charter, in his Peace Formula. We also welcomed the efforts of the UN General Assembly to promote a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine.
4. We agreed that there can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities, such as attacks against civilians and the destruction of infrastructure and all those responsible must be held accountable.
5. Twenty years ago, the Thessaloniki Summit acknowledged that the Western Balkans belong to the European Union. We firmly believe that today this statement remains more relevant than ever. The escalating war of aggression against Ukraine revealed the urgent need for a strong, resilient and inclusive EU as a cornerstone of peace and prosperity among our peoples during these challenging times.
6. We stressed that the Western Balkans, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, geographically adjacent to EU Member States, have a common European heritage, history and a future defined by shared opportunities and challenges. As a strategic investment in peace, security and stability in Europe, it is important for these regions to be embraced as full-fledged members of the European family.
7. Today in Athens, we discussed the way forward, in order to make this vision of Europe a reality. We underlined the importance of setting ourselves a target for the completion of the vision of an EU enriched with the Western Balkans, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. We underlined the need for a re-energized and re-focused enlargement process that is tangible and credible, without shortcuts to the set conditions. We expressed our commitment to support Ukraine and Moldova to take the next steps in their accession process as soon as they have completed the necessary reforms.
8. We firmly believe that 20 years after the Thessaloniki Summit and in light of the new geopolitical reality, the time has come to adopt a bold and ambitious end goal that will serve as guide, inspiration and context.”
Greece pledges to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s
Earlier on Monday, the Ukrainian leader met Mitsotakis whom he briefed on the current situation in Ukraine.
Five outcomes of our talks with Prime Minister @KMitsotakis.
1. Greece joined the aviation coalition: it will train our pilots to fly F-16s. Greece is also preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine.
2. I proposed ways for Greece to assist us in securing Ukraine’s new… pic.twitter.com/saayynoA5I
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 21, 2023
Greece is also preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine, Zelensky said, without providing further details.
The Ukrainian President also announced that he has proposed ways for Greece to help his country in securing the new Black Sea grain corridor.
Greece’s participation in Ukraine’s recovery, including the possibility of Athens taking patronage over the recovery of the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa, was also discussed in the meeting, he added.