The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered and continues to produce extremely dire consequences.

At the same time, it functions as a catalyst for important developments in Europe.

On the core level, it has helped to transcend differences between various camps within the Union, while at the regional level it has prompted traditionally neutral countries such as Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership.

One of the developments that concerns Greece is the effort to expedite the EU accession course of Western Balkan countries.

Moscow’s efforts to split the western front via Serbia and China’s massive economic penetration in various Balkan countries persuaded French President Emmanuel Macron to set aside his reservations and to agree with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that these countries belong to the central core of Europe, and not the outer fringe.

Obviously, Greece will play a leading role in this process, functioning as a bridge between its northern neighbours and its EU partners.

That is a key reason that Olaf Scholz attended the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEEC) summit in Thessaloniki.

His visit to Greece reflects a dramatic improvement in bilateral relations, which until recently were hindered by the previous chancellor’s harsh implementation of bailout memorandums during Greece’s decade-long economic crisis and her policy of keeping equal distances in Greek-Turkish differences.

Many say that Scholz is timid, finds it difficult to take initiatives, and thinks and acts as if he is still a finance minister.

What is certain is that he has understood the strategic impasses created by his country’s energy dependence on Moscow, for which Angela Merkel has not expressed regret.

He has also understood the political impasses to which neutrality toward authoritarian and revisionist powers, whether Russia or Turkey, leads.

The Germans are returning, this time not to impose their will but to cooperate.

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