Macron’s ‘mistakes’ are leaving the Western Balkans open to Russian meddling

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The French President vetoed the accession talks in October, a move Mr Mitsotakis has branded a “mistake”. “I hope that this mistake is going to be correct,” said the Greek prime minister. But he also warned that the disruptive move by Paris has allowed fears of a Russian takeover of the Western Balkan region to creep in across the bloc.

Asked about interference by Moscow in the region, Mr Mitsotakis told the Financial Times: “I was worried, I am worried and I will continue to be worried.

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“That is why I think that the decision taken at the European Council needs to be revisited.”

The Greek leader urged Mr Macron to rethink his approach to EU enlargement, which has angered countries across the bloc, to allow North Macedonia and Albania to start membership talks.

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“If we look at the big geopolitical context, it is very clear that the European path needs to be kept open for all Western Balkan countries, provided they meet the requirements, this is not an automatic process, otherwise this void is going to be filled,” he said.

“And I also take some cues from Greece’s story, in 1979 Greece concluded negotiations to become a member of the European Economic Community, because a French president, at the time, took a bold decision, looking at the bigger geopolitical context, that Greece had to belong to Europe in order to overcome the trauma of the Junta.

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“Was Greece ready to join at the time? Who knows. And, of course, the process was very different at the time.

“But it was a geopolitical decision, it was a most important decision for the future of the country, in retrospect.”

Mr Mitsotakis also denounced the French President’s recent criticism of Nato, during which he branded the defence alliance “brand-dead”.

In an interview, Mr Maron cast doubt over whether the US would honour its Article 5 commitment – the mutual defence clause that underpins Nato – as he pushed for a European Union defence force.

He told the Economist magazine that he believes Donald Trump is behind the alliance’s shortfalls because of the US President’s unilateral approach.

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In a separate speech, the French leader supplemented his assault on Nato during an address to the Paris Peace Forum.

He said: “The first risk is laziness, telling ourselves ‘we have institutions that we like, let’s not question them. They sometimes lost their purpose, no one understands where they’re headed but let’s hide this.”

“I think we need truth,” he added.

“Prudishness or hypocrisy don’t work nowadays, because citizens see it. We live in an open world … When it doesn’t work they tell us. So hypocrisy and silence are not a solution. Intellectual laziness of action doesn’t work.”

Responding to the Nato comments ahead of a leaders summit in London, Mr Mitsotakis said: “Sometimes the language itself is also important, and it ends up bringing about the opposite results.

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“It’s one thing to say Nato is in need of reform, and it’s completely different to actually say that Nato is brain-dead.

“I do agree that Europe as a whole needs to develop more defence capabilities, but discarding Nato as a pillar of peace in the post-world war two world goes too far for my taste.”

Macron’s ‘mistakes’ are leaving the Western Balkans open to Russian meddling

The French President vetoed the accession talks in October, a move Mr Mitsotakis has branded a “mistake”. “I hope that this mistake is going to be correct,” said the Greek prime minister. But he also warned that the disruptive move by Paris has allowed fears of a Russian takeover of the Western Balkan region to creep in across the bloc.

The French President vetoed the accession talks in October, a move Mr Mitsotakis has branded a “mistake”. “I hope that this mistake is going to be correct,” said the Greek prime minister. But he also warned that the disruptive move by Paris has allowed fears of a Russian takeover of the Western Balkan region to creep in across the bloc.

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