Greek Foreign Affairs Minister George Gerapetritis used a meeting with his visiting Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg on Wednesday to reissue thinly veiled messages to at least two neighboring states in the West Balkans regarding their EU aspirations.

The western Balkans’ European prospect “goes through a path of rule of law, the European acquis, democracy, minority rights and, of course, compliance with agreed to conditions, including international agreements and international law, in total,” he said, comments considered as aimed at the Rama government in Albania and the new leadership in North Macedonia.

Athens is miffed at Tirana over what the former considers a politically motivated prosecution and “sham trial” conviction of an ethnic Greek mayor-elect (Fredi Beleri) in southeast coastal Albania, along with a nationalist resurgence in the Republic of North Macedonia. The new president and prime minister of the latter have flagrantly refused to use the Prespa Agreement-mandated constitutional name – i.e. North Macedonia instead of “Macedonia” stand-alone – since taking office recently.

“Compliance with International Law cannot be selective; acts that imply irredentist leanings and which undermine good-neighborly relations and their European prospect, instead of strengthening them, are unacceptable…”

Gerapetritis commended Austria’s initiative to establish a Group of Friends of the West Balkans last year, before pointing direction to the new leadership of North Macedonia as having committed “explicit violations in relation to the Prespa Agreement.”

Turning to Albania and the continued incarceration of Fredi Beleri, who was elected in Greece last month as a European Parliament deputy, he said:

“We expect Albania to do what is self-evident – to respect European Law, which offers the ability of the now-elected MEP to assume his duties and participate fully.”

On his part, Schallenberg said Greece is a significant country because it lies at a very sensitive geostrategic location and has helped in various crises, including providing aid to Ukraine.