Recent evolutions in South-Eastern Europe and the role of Thessalonica


The recent evolutions in South-Eastern Europe, namely the decline of the socialistic regimes in the Balkans, as well as the occasion that has lately presented for the integration of the European but also of the Balkan area, generate a new geopolitical reality that gives a new prospect to Thessaloniki: thus to get developed as a leading metropolitan centre of the Balkans.

On the one hand, Thessaloniki belongs to the integrated area of the European Union, but on the other, it is placed among the greater geographical – historical – cultural entities of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is potentially able to play a leading role. The questions if and in what degree can Thessaloniki become a leading metropolitan centre of the Balkans consist the object of the graduate dissertation entitled: “The recent evolutions in South- Eastern Europe and the role of Thessaloniki”.

Initially, an attempt is made to record briefly the path that the Balkan countries have followed in the current decade and simultaneously to comprehend the factors that have led this evolution. It is also very important to clarify the role of Greece in this context and the opportunities appeared to the country, but also the uncertainties that the recent evolutions in the Balkan region may generate.

In addition, the dissertation outlines the profile of Thessaloniki, in order to illustrate and analyse the existing dynamics that will either upgrade or undermine its role and perspectives. Finally, it is attempted to evaluate the role or even the multiple roles that Thessaloniki is able to play within the Balkans region, taking into consideration the evolutions made in their hinterland in relation to the city’s potentialities.

In concluding, the dissertation argues that in order to claim a metropolitan role in the Balkan area, Thessaloniki has to adopt a strategy, that should consist an integral part of a more general Greek policy for the Balkans region – a policy that is now totally absent. Similarly, the European Union and more generally the international community, are also ought to pursue a specific Balkan policy, that would gradually enable the Balkan countries to come out of the current crisis – economical, social or other. Moreover, the pacification and stabilization of this area consist an indispensable, though not sufficient, condition for as Thessaloniki to undertake a leading role in the Balkans.

At last, it seems that among all the conclusions reached within the study, the most important is the fact that Thessaloniki is not able to claim a general metropolitan role in every level of its activity and function, but only some specific roles in specifics fields; for instance a commercial – business and cultural centre, a communication and transport node, a conference and exhibition centre, etc. Definitely, the progression of these roles strictly needs that, the soonest possible, the Greek public authorities, as well as the local government, should mobilize towards Thessaloniki’s perspective as a leading metropolitan centre in the South-Eastern Europe, so that this considerable conjuncture would not be left undermined.