The Balkan Dialogue – 2021. Day 1: The role of the region in the Russia-EU-NATO triangle

The Balkan Dialogue – a traditional program of the Gorchakov Fund focusing on the most important problems of the Balkan countries in a global perspective – has opened in Moscow. Participants of the project include young professionals in the areas of international relations, policy, economy, history of the Balkan region, journalists, representatives of NGOs and government agencies.

In 2021, the event was included into the list of official events of the Russia-Greece Cross Year of History. Special emphasis was placed on both, intensification of Russian-Greek cooperation and the historical process of establishment of the Greek Republic 200 years ago.

The program of the event was opened by a discussion about the contribution made by Russia into gaining of independence by the Greek people. Professor at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History, Faculty of History, Lomonosov Moscow State University Olga Petrunina presented a detailed analysis of the past events:

"Beginning of the Greek struggle for independence is still considered a serious trauma in the historical memory of the Turks because the Greeks laid foundation for the breakup process of the Ottoman Empire. They rebelled against, who was thought to be, their legal sovereign — the sultan and, thus, set an example to other Balkan nations. I would like to remind you that the Filiki Eteria Society, which was preparing the rebellion of the Greeks, had been established in Russia and the headquarters of the society were also located here. It proves that there were favorable conditions for preparation of the liberation movement in Russia."

Theodora Yannitsi, Director of the Greek Cultural Center in Moscow, demonstrated the role of Russia in establishing independence of Greece by using memoirs of Russian travelers and marine officers, who had been taking part in the military actions starting from the second half of the 18th century.

"We, the Greek Cultural Center, are experiencing that in our work: we are one whole world, we [Russia and Greece] are very close, first of all, on an interpersonal level of communication among ordinary people, which does not depend on the political environment. And this is where our role is, the role of people's diplomacy and non-governmental organizations: together we are stronger, more powerful, more spiritual; we constitute a common historical, spiritual, cultural and civilization community", added Ms. Yannitsi.

Costas Isychos, former Deputy Defense Minister of Greece (2015), opened the second session of the first day of the Balkan Dialogue dedicated to regional security of the Balkan Peninsula. According to him, "only the Serbs are held accountable for the civil war, but it is wrong: all of that was started by the European Union, Germany and NATO". 

"We should live in a new world of mutual understanding. The Balkan Peninsula should become not only the point of war, but an example to demonstrated different mentalities of countries in the European Union. We should remember that very often black and white, love or hatred are present in other countries; we should get away from the obsession with interests of certain states", concluded Costas Isychos.

Stefano Pilotto, Professor of History of International Relations at MIB School of Management in Trieste (Italy) assessed the level of interest of the Balkan countries in becoming members of the NATO block:
"The European Union represents a very rewarding economic cooperation for the western world, and NATO, based on its mission, is responsible for security. However, today the Alliance is not working to stabilize the situation in the region. Mainly, it is happening due to the fact that NATO was created during the Cold War, and the OSCE countries were perceiving it rather as an enemy of socialist countries, which at any time could attack them. Now the Alliance is approaching the borders of Russia right through the Balkans provoking a threat of destabilizing the region. Not all Balkan countries will be happy to receive much attention from NATO."
The Balkan Dialogue – 2021 will end on November 21. As a conclusion of their work during the program, the participants will defend their projects – development scenarios in the Balkan region in different areas of international interaction.