Update No: 152 - (25/01/10)
The Athens-Belgrade axis
The Serbians and Greeks are historic allies, who are proud of their Orthodox
Christianity and common heritage in the centuries under Ottoman rule. This was
ended by the Greek War of Independence of 1821-31 and the looming Serb War of
Independence that culminated in victory in 1878.
Serbian President Boris Tadic and Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou
renewed these ties in the New Year. They had talks in Belgrade on the
acceleration of the European integration of Serbia, the improvement of the
cooperation between their two countries and the situation in Kosmet (Kosovo) and
While pointing that Serbia and Greece have been partners and friends throughout
history, Tadic thanked the authorities in Athens for their resolute support in
the process of European integration. He emphasized that it was Papandreou who
started the initiative for all the former republics of Yugoslavia, and Albania
to become full members of the EU by 2014.
While stressing that there are no issues on which the two states have opposing
stances, Tadic pointed that Greece has always been and will be a close partner
of Serbia. The Athens-Belgrade axis is firm.
Into the EU
There is no doubt that Athens is a vital ally for Belgrade in its push to join
the EU. Papandreou has assessed that in 2009 Serbia achieved a big success on
its course towards the EU and supports Serbia’s submission of candidacy for
membership of the European Union.
The Head of Greek Diplomacy also pointed that Greece will continue supporting
Serbia. "We believe that by 2014 we can make the European perspective be a
reality for Serbia and the West Balkans," said Papandreou.
What's in a name?
There is a matter in which Belgrade can do Athens a favour - to persuade Skopje
to moderate its stance on calling its country 'Macedonia.' The use of this name
deeply offends Greek susceptibilities.
The Greeks are very proud of Alexander the Great, the son of Philip of Macedon,
unifier of Greece and founder of the Hellenism that spread Greek civilisation
across the known world. He hailed from their northern province of Macedonia,
which abuts on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
If the Macedonians just bide their time and get into the EU as FYROM, with Greek
sufferance of the same, their country is going to become called Macedonia quite
spontaneously by other members and the wider world, instead of the gobbledygook
of 'FYROM.' Time is on their side.
Serbia divided into seven statistical regions
A new regional structure for Serbia became effective on January 1st, separating
it into seven statistical regions. The new map was approved without any comments
by the government of Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and got a green light from
the EU's statistical office, Eurostat.
Under the new structure, the country will be divided into seven statistical
units -- Belgrade, Eastern, Western, Central, Southern and the regions Vojvodina
and Kosovo and Metohija.
This redrawing of boundaries makes sense geographically and geopolitically. It
could not have been undertaken in Yugoslav times when any suggestion of shifting
frontiers was anathema to the fragile, composite state. It makes sense for its
rump, Serbia, today.