Speech of George Katrougalos in the Debate: Recent tensions between Pristina and Belgrade (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 25-01-2023)


Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

The Balkans used to be called the Powder Keg of Europe. Unfortunately, they have still explosive potential. It is not limited to the Balkans.

Again, unfortunately, the status of minorities throughout Europe is becoming a factor of destabilisation to an extent that reminds the situation before the second World War.

However, in the case of Kosovo, there is some light. It seems, after the recent declaration by the President of Serbia that re-examines their proposals for normalisation, maybe the two parties could reach a viable compromise, because it’s obvious that the only solution possible is through dialogue, respect of the other, and compromise –as Greece and North Macedonia have shown in the case of Prespa Agreement.

The so-called Franco-German plan, which provides that Serbia would not oppose the participation of Kosovo in international organisation in exchange for some form, if not of self-determination, at least of self-expression of the Serbian minority, I think could be one of the possible ways of compromise. Not, of course, the only one.

Both parties should fully respect the framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the protection of minorities. Serbia is already part of it. Kosovo authorities should fully endorse and respect its provisions.

Finally, a word about the responsibility of us, of Europe.

It is persuasive to use the ticket of Europe saying to the parties: if you do not respect the national legality, if you’re not trying to have good terms of neighbourhood, then you are not going to have a European perspective. If we use this argument, we must keep our part of the promise. This is not the case now. In the western Balkans. North Macedonia has done whatever they could, and they are frustrated that Brussels have not responded likewise.

Therefore, in order to keep the peace in a very problematic area, the Kosovan authorities and Serbia should demonstrate selfe-restraint, but also we in Europe must take our part of our responsibility.

Thank you.