Former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias: Greece’s foreign policy must be daring and positive in character

Within the context of the 4th Delphi Economic Forum, former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias declared that ‘a state prospers when it possesses power, partnerships and alliances, and when it forges trust relations with other states’. The former Minister argued that foreign policy objectives should not drag a state towards the abyss; these aspirations must be envisaged as a balloon which can lift a country towards a positive trajectory. Foreign policy must be daring and positive in character.

Referring to the name dispute with the neighbouring state, former Minister Nikos Kotzias explained the reasons that befitted Greece to solve the issue: ‘First and foremostly, it was a national problem pending immediate solution, and draining for years valuable energy resources of Greek diplomacy. Second, Greece has a golden opportunity by making the first steps out of financial crisis to drag along Balkan neighbours towards the path of regional growth. Third, our country possesses a relatively small standing in world politics, but in the Balkans we are a very powerful state.’ Further, the former Foreign Minister underscored that the Prespes Agreement does not undermine the ethnic identity of Greeks, even though, as he said, there are a lot of “games’ behind this identity.

With respect to Greece-U.S. relations, Mr. Kotzias dismissed allegations that a leftist government cannot cooperate with the Americans and underscored the convergent interests that stem from stability in the region. ‘We assumed duties within the Ministry at a time when American interests were converging with our foreign policy considerations – compared to previous eras. We found common ground in the battle against terrorism and we did not wish to see states which might upset the current equilibrium to gain access in the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, the U.S. aspires to see Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece defend their entitlements to develop natural gas pipeline networks in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Former Minister Kotzias admitted that the first time he visited Brussels and Washington, he did not narrate the state’s endemic foreign policy problems because these were already known. Instead, Mr. Kotzias attempted to present the ways Greece could assume an accommodating role within regional problems, as an anchor of stability and security in the region. The former Foreign Minister enunciated then that Greece was entrapped within a triangle of volatility, with Ukraine in North, Libya in West and Syria and Iraq in East. The biggest security dilemma at that time was whether Greece would become part of the problem or would forge new partnerships and alliances to project waves of stability towards the sides of an unstable triangle.

Mr. Kotzias also discussed the role of Foreign Minister, projecting his personal experience. ‘A Foreign Minister must recorded on a realistic basis the current situation of the state, its internal strengths and potential capabilities. Second, it must escape from long-term procrastination and a tendency to avoid solving problems – attitudes that we have embraced in Greece for many years. Third, we must undertake initiatives to escape from our endemic problems.’

Asked whether Turkey represents the Pakistan of Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Mr. Kotzias said that the neighbour state has a lot of contradictions in its policies. The failed coup helped Turkey’s political elit to develop an intricate attitude characterised by fear, insecurity and distrust but also exhibits arrogance. These contradictions constitute Turkey a revisionist, nervous stakeholder in the region. Turkey currently faces an existential dilemma, it has to decide whether it would opt out to become a Western state or a regional superpower. Against this backdrop, Greek foreign policy must project stable viewpoints and attempt to bring Turkish representatives towards our own frame of thinking. Greece would be most benefited from a European democratic Turkey.

In relation to energy security issues, former Foreign Minister Kotzias stressed the need to secure that energy resources would be extracted and distributed from our region, the third energy way towards the West and Europe and denoted that he tried to do that with the two four-lateral meetings with U.S., Greece, Cyprus and Israel and Greece, France, Egypt and Cyprus. Finally, Mr. Kotzias made special reference to Greece’s relations with China, focusing on the role of culture and the Forum for Ancient Civilisations.

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