Joint article by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Gordan Grlić Radman and the Hellenic Republic Nikos Dendias

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Croatia and Greece at 30: The path to peace, stability and European Integration
Southeastern Europe was traditionally a complex and historically burdened region.
Many, however, tend to overlook its potential.
Its achievements, likewise, do not always attract the attention they deserve.
One of the less known success stories in Southeastern Europe is the bilateral relationship between Croatia and Greece.
This year, as we celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations, this is an opportunity to assess the achievements over the past three decades, as well as look how to take things forward in the future.
Croatia and Greece were not meant to be natural partners to begin with.
Geographically, the two countries are at the opposite ends of South-Eastern Europe.
We have different historical and religious backgrounds.
In a region that "produces more history than it can consume", this could make a big difference.
And it is fair to say that the beginning of these relations was not always free of negative perceptions.
Yet, both countries wanted to set an example and look forward, not backwards.
Athens and Zagreb have worked alongside in building a bilateral relation that reflects the values of the 21st Century, not of the 19th.
Values that are enshrined in the EU Treaty, the UN Charter and the North Atlantic Treaty.
Values such as respect for International Law, the peaceful resolution of disputes, respect for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which forms part of the EU acquis.
We begun our multilateral cooperation in regional formats, such as the South-East Europe Cooperation Process, of which Athens held the Presidency until a few weeks ago.
A key element that contributed to the significant advancement of our relations was Zagreb’s strategic bid to join the European Union and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization, bid that Athens firmly supported, right from the very beginning.
This is in line with our shared goal of ensuring a European perspective for the broader region, including the Western Balkans.
We firmly believe that the path to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region is an one-way street that leads to the European family.
We fully support the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, as well as ensuring a European path for the region.
This stems from our firm conviction that unless we take positive action and provide assistance and support to all those that seek to join the European project, other destabilizing and adversarial forces will fill the void that unavoidably will be  created.
We have also taken initiatives to  safeguard the inviolability of borders, which for us remains one of the fundamental principles of our policies.
And to ensure better and more representative governance the upcoming elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be free and democratic, based on the principle of equality of three constituent peoples and non-discrimination of all citizens.
Constitutional and electoral reform should be urgently finalized. Together with other crucial reforms, it will allow the country to advance decisively on its European path.
In recent years, bilateral political meetings and contacts, including at high level, have increased, opening-up the possibility for enhanced economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries, an area where there is still untapped potential.
Within the European Union, the views and positions of our two countries converge in an array of major EU policy areas.
Croatia, holding the Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2020, stood in solidarity and played a pivotal role in helping Greece protecting its border and helping to prevent an illegal migration wave.
Athens and Zagreb also “rediscovered’ their strong and centuries-old Mediterranean bonds.
Since last year, Croatia fully participates in the EUMED9, a vehicle of closer cooperation among the EU’s southern Member States.
Looking back, Athens and Zagreb have, over 30 years, compiled the main principles and successfully learned the "A to Z" of good bilateral and multilateral relations.
Now, our ambition, our obligation to our people and to our neighbours is to help apply those lessons for the common benefit of our European family.
In particularly troubled times, when the world seems darker, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have to bring a layer of light.
And to show everyone that there is a better future. There are success stories that we can build on.
This is what the relationship between Croatia and Greece is about.

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