Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias gave a comprehensive picture of Greece’s foreign policy, from its main pillars to all the crucial issues currently underway with our neighbors, as well as his recent trips to the United States and Turkey during the the two-hour briefing of the diplomatic correspondents at the MFA today.
“We are making a foreign policy that allows us to be respected and taken seriously,” he said, explaining that over the past three years our foreign policy has significantly upgraded our country’s role, which has been well noted by the international community and that Greece is not pressed and speaks equally as all countries.
Mr. Kotzias highlighted Greece’s willingness to solve the problems of the past, both with Albania and with FYROM. In this context, he announced that he will have a meeting with his Albanian counterpart, Dmitry Bushati, in the first half of November, in order to find an ideal solution for all issues, “easy and difficult so that we will not come across them later on in view of the accession negotiations of the neighboring country. ” In this regard, he also referred to the coordinating groups that discuss the issues in question so as to resolve them.
Asked about recent events about the demolition of property belonging to the Greek minority in Himara, the Foreign Minister described as “very wise” the choice of the Albanian government not go through with the demolitions, which he said helps in the negotiations between the two countries. However, he stressed that the new Albanian law on minorities would be judged by the EU. He noted that the new law maintains the same weaknesses in territorial identification based on registers for the Greek minority, repeating the mistakes of the Hoxha era. At the same time, he clarified that the Greek minority is recognized by international law and also pointed out that there should be better understanding and respect for it, instead of wanting to eliminate it.
Mr. Kotzias placed special emphasis on the name issue with regards to FYROM considering that it would be good to be resolved in the first half of 2018 and to complete the process by the end of the year, instead of 2019, which is an election year for both countries and is inappropriate for such issues.
Referring to the significant progress made by the Confidence-Building Measures in the last two years and the good relations between the two countries, he stressed that two key issues need to be solved: on the one hand, public irredentism, and on the other hand the bias that Greece does not want the neighboring country to exist.
Expressing the belief that the new Skopje government is more willing than the former to compromise and agree on the name issue, he stressed that the Greek side has a solution able to last in time, not offending towards anyone and acceptable by both sides, including populations. “I want compromises that are good and productive, not rotten causing disorganization,” he said, noting that Greece has no claims, is the third largest investor in FYROM, but is offering a big embrace to welcome all the people of the neighboring country.
In three to four weeks, he said, Mr. Nimetz will have meetings with the negotiators on both sides.
On the name issue there should be neither winners nor losers, Mr. Kotzias noted, stressing that the time has come for a compromise, while, when asked, he responded that the Greek government in its entirety is ready for a compromise on the solution of the name issue.
Referring to his trip to the US with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, he said that with the Americans we want normal diplomatic relations, as we have demonstrated how we behave, and underlined that Greek diplomacy has concrete proposals for developing a security structure in the region through the positive initiative agenda that promotes the resolution of problems in our immediate neighborhood.
Mr. Kotzias also clarified that there was a negotiation neither on the basis of Souda nor on nuclear storage in Greece.
A special mention was made by the Foreign Minister for the International Conference on the Protection of Religious and Cultural Communities, which is held for the second time at the initiative of Mr. Kotzias in Athens on Monday and Tuesday.
Mr. Kotzias welcomed the international acceptance of the first Conference two years ago and the initiatives it “gave birth to” in many countries. Most importantly he expressed his satisfaction at the importance that the Greek state attaches to it as, according to him, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos will give the opening remarks , apart from the religious leaders the President of the Parliament Nikos Voutsis will host a luncheon for the invited guests, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will inaugurate the official dinner.
It is noted that the Foreign Minister has promised extensive information on the fight against corruption at the MFA, and stressed that he will be relentless on the matter.