Your Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends,As our region tries to endure the impact of war, it is crucial that the EU contributes to this effort. Τhe Economic & Investment Plan is expected to bring tangible benefits to citizens and businesses. It is also expected to reinforce the region’s sustainable growth, including inter-connectivity. Can I talk now a little bit about our big home, our big family, the European Union. The European Union was created as a visionary project of peace. A project that would promote economic and political integration. And today’s European Union is the outcome of that initial choice. A choice that we, Europeans, need to defend. We should continue to strive tirelessly for cementing peace, stability and sustainable development.In this context, the region’s European integration remains an unfinished business 19 years after the 2003 “Thessaloniki Agenda”. I wish to reiterate what the Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis mentioned on June 10. He said: “In accordance with set criteria, let us offer the potential of completing the integration of all of the Western Balkans into the EU by 2033 – an ambitious but absolutely achievable timeline”.Thank you so much.The war in Ukraine highlighted the strategic importance of the European Union-Western Balkans relationship. The EU remains the biggest trade and investment partner of the Western Balkans. Cooperation on foreign policy with Western Balkans partners has stepped up, also in relation to Ukraine. Greece is doing its utmost to contribute to this collective effort. I have recently visited all the capitals of the region to convey messages of support for our partners’ European perspective, as well as to highlight the need for reconciliation. However, there are significant positive indications as well.