Securing the Balkans
Amb. Mallias emphasized the broad sweep of outstanding issues in the Balkans that need to be elevated to priority status on the EU agenda, in conjunction with an active American commitment to help resolve Kosovo's final status and strengthen the European security perimeter through EU and NATO enlargement. He described Europe's strong commitment to addressing ongoing and potential challenges in the Balkan region as a platform for strengthening both U.S.-Greek and broader trans-Atlantic relations in 2005 and beyond. He noted that the prospect of EU accession for Balkan countries has proven to be an influential lever of the EU's "soft power" that had produced sweeping domestic changes in other eastern European countries.
Amb. Mallias expressed Athens' concern about high unemployment and underemployment in the Balkans, linked to small national economies, a serious lack of needed infrastructure, the absence of sufficient foreign investment, and social divisions among ethnic and religious minorities. Greek policies are shaped to foster social and ethnic inclusiveness among its Balkan neighbors, he added, in conjunction with promoting foreign investment interest.
Regarding the Kosovo issue, Amb. Mallias stated that Kosovo's Serbs and Albanians must be persuaded by both the EU and the U.S. to co-exist under a European economic and political framework for development, adding that Montenegro should be included in the process.
Referring to Washington's November decision to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the "Republic of Macedonia," Amb. Mallias expressed the displeasure of the Greek government. He stated that Greece remains committed to reaching agreement on the issue. Athens now expects Washington's active engagement in, and support for, continued negotiations, as well as acceptance of the outcome of the talks.
Amb. Mallias also described an assertive Greek role in international defense cooperation and multinational peacekeeping operations, noting Greece's disproportionately high peacekeeping participation in current NATO and United Nations missions.