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Zelensky arrives in Greece for Ukraine-Balkan summit

by Alexander Query August 22, 2023 12:03 AM 2 min read
Balkan leaders pose with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Volodymyr Zelensky, and European Council President Charles Michel in Athens on Aug. 21, 2023. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Athens on Aug. 21 to participate in a Ukraine-Balkan summit in Greece, Zelensky said in a video message published on his Telegram channel.

He is set to hold joint meetings with Balkan leaders to coordinate European and Euro-Atlantic integration, defense cooperation, security, as well as separate talks on bilateral issues.

He will also meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, according to his post on Telegram.

"We continue our visit to Greece (after visits to Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark). We have already arrived," Zelensky said.

The president visited Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden during a diplomatic trip to the countries to discuss military aid, particularly fighter jets for Ukraine's war effort.

Zelensky will also meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines of the summit, Ukrinform reported.

“I want to inform the public that I will have a bilateral meeting with him at the request of the Ukrainian President. I will talk to Zelensky about everything that has happened recently in Kosovo. I believe we will have an open and good conversation,” Vucic said.

In May, dozens of NATO peacekeeping soldiers were injured when violence erupted in northern Kosovo following elections in which ethnic Albanian mayors took office in Serbian-majority areas of northern Kosovo. Serbs boycotted the elections, resulting in low turnout. Kosovo blamed Serbia for inciting the boycott and ensuing violence.

Serbia has never recognized Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, as an independent state after it broke away from Serbia following a war in 1998-99. The U.S. and most European Union member states have recognized Kosovo's independence, which was officially declared in 2008. Ukraine has yet to recognize the country.

Serbia, whose military is armed through Russian donations and purchases, has been threatening force against Kosovo since it became independent.

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo also flared last summer amid claims that Kosovo was preparing an attack on ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo. The government in Kosovo has accused Vucic of deliberately stirring tensions between the two countries.

Last August, the government in Pristina, Kosovo said Serbs living in the north would have to use license plates issues in Pristina. Roadblocks were set up in protest, but were eventually removed with the oversight of NATO peacekeepers.

Ukraine war latest: Kyiv to receive 61 F-16 fighter jets, with first aircraft set to arrive in 2023
Editor’s note: The original version of this article mistakenly wrote that Ukraine was set to receive 42 fighter jets, when the total is in fact 61 — 42 from the Netherlands and 19 from Denmark, wtih the first set to arrive this year from Danish stockpiles. Key developments on Aug. 20:
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