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. 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.Thank you so much.Your Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends,The EU and the Western Balkans should do their own share in this respect. Our partners need to fulfill the relevant criteria according to the set conditionality. But, also, the EU needs to get the enlargement in the Western Balkans back on track and very quickly, if I may say so.I would like to conclude with a word of caution regarding the presence of third actors in the region. Actors which promote adversarial political and economic agendas. Such agendas, different to the European agenda, run counter to our collective interests, and they attempt to undermine the EU-Western Balkans relationship.In this context, the region’s European integration remains an unfinished business 19 years after the 2003 “Thessaloniki Agenda”. 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. 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. 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.