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. 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. These potentially very risky elements coincide with a set of crises in the wider region linked to economy, energy and food. Crises caused or aggravated by the illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. 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.It is such a great pleasure to participate at today’s Forum, engaging in the dialogue which provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges and prospects of Western Balkans. Prospects that are linked to the European future of the region. And challenges we can collectively overcome by focusing our efforts on the stability and prosperity of the region. And since there is pessimism sometimes around, may I say, that we do have success stories in the Balkans. And I am here representing one success story: our relation with North Macedonia. 10 years ago, who would have said that the Greek Foreign Minister would come to a foreign policy Forum, the Prespa Forum, and advocate for the European future of North Macedonia. So, we can be optimists. Within this equation, it is impossible to imagine Europe without its Southeastern region. Southeast Europe in general and the Western Balkans in particular have always belonged to Europe. Like other parts of the Continent, the Western Balkans have experienced armed conflicts, that is known. But, geographically, historically, culturally they belong to Europe. Their bitter legacy has left behind, even today, an amount of mistrust, nationalism and lack of reconciliation.