Saturday , December 5 2020

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - NOVEMBER 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - APRIL-MAY 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - MARCH 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

 

 

Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at the airport on behalf of the Greek Government before he met individually with his Greek counterpart and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The signing of the EEZ partial delimitation agreement on August 6th and its entry into force is a milestone for relations between our countries, as well as for the wider region,” President Sakellaropoulou said during her meeting with the visiting Egyptian President. She pointed out that it is very important for Greece and herself, personally, that the country is today welcoming the leader of a great, friendly nation, which is also a pillar of stability in the region and a real leader of power in the Muslim and Arab world. “A country associated with Greece, with long-standing relations of friendship, respect and culture,” she added.

The Greek Head of State also referred to the escalation of Turkish aggression and delinquency and condemned the recent resurgence of terrorism with religion as a pretext, emphasising that it is indisputable that religious values have nothing to do with acts of extremism.

On his part, the Egyptian President thanked President Sakellaropoulou for the warm welcome and referred to the long-term relationship between the two countries expressing his confidence that their discussions will be constructive. He agreed with his Greek counterpart regarding the agreement of August 6th, noting that it will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations and added that other agreements will follow. He also stressed that Egypt will stand by Greece and in support of its rights, on any issue related to the country’s security and maritime borders. Finally, the Egyptian President agreed that recent terrorist acts have nothing to do with religion or with what some believe, but are the acts of extremists, which must not lead to religious conflicts.

The Greek President addressing her distinguished guests in a State Dinner in honour of her counterpart she stressed that the Greek-Egyptian relationship is characterised by “cooperation, mutual respect, trust and appreciation and on the other hand, is an indisputable witness of the mutual will to further develop our cooperation in a number of areas, political, defence, economic, energy,” she said.

In response, President Al-Sisi noted that the common values, mutual interests and close cultural ties between Egypt and Greece make the two friendly countries an important bridge of meeting, dialogue and cooperation between the Arab and Islamic worlds on the one hand, and the European continent on the other. “It places on our shoulders the common responsibility to spread the values of peace, tolerance, rejection of violence and mutual respect between the peoples and cultures of the southern and northern Mediterranean,” he continued.

After a meeting with the President of Egypt, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “trilateral cooperation is a foundation of peace, stability and prosperity; a foundation that Greece, Egypt and Cyprus are steadily serving.”

During their joint news conference, Premier Mitsotakis stated that Greece and Egypt will welcome “a more decisive role of the United States in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean” .

“In our troubled region, our two countries have already set an example of peace and cooperation with an emblematic moment on August 6th, when they signed an agreement on the partial delimitation of maritime zones and our common intention to continue consultations so that this agreement can be extended,” Premier Mitsotakis said.

“It is a very important development. This agreement is the best example of how, when we are guided by International Law, the rules of good neighbourly relations and respect, we reach agreements that benefit our peoples,” he added. These are “emblematic actions that generate conquests of peace and cooperation,” the Premier stressed, adding that “contrary to the stance of neighbouring Turkey, the Mediterranean can become a sea that unites instead of dividing peoples.”

Premier Mitsotakis said his talks with Egypt’s President had focused on the EastMed pipeline, while adding that “every country can participate, provided it abstains from provocations and respects International Law.” “Greece and Egypt are partners with mutual export relations and common strategic goals,” he said, stressing that “soon both countries will be even more attractive investment destinations.”

The Prime Minister also spoke about migration, highlighting Egypt’s important role “in stopping migration flows”, but also its participation in the ceasefire agreement in Libya, which he said was “due to Egypt”. “We all feel Egypt’s important role as a beacon of moderate, of true Islam. Especially in times, like the present, when certain forces are attempting to don a religious mantle,” he added.

Closing his statements, Premier Mitsotakis referred to a historical event: “As of today, 78 years ago the historic battle of El Alamein was concluding with the famous victory of the allies; A starting point for the liberation of Europe. Among those fighters were thousands of Greeks who made Egypt the base of their struggle. Our countries have always been together. Then in war, today in peace and tomorrow in growth and prosperity.”

On his part, President Al-Sisi said: “We discussed the events in our region and the adoption of policies by some that are at odds with the international community and we agreed to jointly address all those who want to threaten peace.” “We also agreed to strengthen each other in terms of defence relations,” he added.

“We agreed on a just solution to the Cyprus problem based on International Law and referred to the situation in Libya, where we agreed that there should be a political solution that will bring peace and stability to the region,” the Egyptian President said, adding that they also agreed on the immediate need to tackle international terrorism and stop the countries that support it. “We have also agreed that global terrorism has nothing to do with religion and we reject any insult to any religion,” the Egyptian Head of State added.

“Greece and Egypt recollect the UN Charter, respect the principles of good faith and good neighbour relations and seek stability in the wider region,” stated Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas, welcoming visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the Greek Parliament. “International Law, peace and growth are in the interests of the peoples,” he added, referring to the exemplary cooperation between Greece and Egypt.

“I welcome you to my country, to the Greek Parliament, which later today will sign an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sector between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.

On his part, the Egyptian President conveyed the Egyptian people’s respect for the Greek people: “The message is the long and constant relationship between the two countries throughout history,” he said, and thanked Greece for “conveying the voice of Egypt to the European Parliaments,” adding that the relations of the two countries will continue with a series of visits and contacts between representatives of the two Parliaments.

“Egypt is an eternal friend which will stand by your side,” the Egyptian Head of State concluded.

Pictured above: President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou grants a State Ceremony for visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; President Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis give statements to the press; the two delegations in conference; with Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas; Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias welcomes the visiting Egyptian Head of State; President Al-Sisi, accompanied by Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos and higher members of the Greek Armed Forces, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis, G.Vitsaras/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA, T.Manolopoulos/Hellenic Presidency & F.Kanellidou/Hellenic Parliament.)

Official Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to Greece

 

Greece is “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”

 

The talks also focused on bilateral issues, including economic and energy cooperation. Minister Lavrov also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras. The last time that the Russian Foreign Minister visited Greece was in 2016. In the past two years, Minister Lavrov has met with his Greek counterpart Minister Dendias several times, on the sidelines of multilateral events. The Greek Foreign Minister also visited Moscow last year.

During his visit to Athens, the two Foreign Ministers signed a Joint Memorandum for the Russia-Greece Year of History 2021 that will coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, with Minister Lavrov describing Greece as “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”.

During their talks, Russia’s firm position on the right of each State to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles was expressed by Foreign Minister Lavrov. “Russia cannot adopt any position other than that dictated by the Law of the Sea,” he said, adding that any Member of the Treaty could register their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, respecting common sense and geographical peculiarities.

Minister Dendias explained to Minister Lavrov the escalation of the Turkish provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct illegal seismic surveys in areas within the Greek continental shelf. The Greek Minister also made it clear that Greece was ready for all contingencies and had no choice but to fully defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights.

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed that differences and problems should be resolved “only through negotiations with consideration and respect for the interests of everyone” and “on the basis of International Law.” In fact, he underlined that the Law of the Sea is key to normalising the situation. “Any problems that arise between the countries must be resolved through dialogue. No matter how difficult the situation between Greece and Turkey is we will always remain in favour of discussing and resolving these problems through direct dialogue,” he said.

Regarding regional developments, Minister Dendias pointed out that in all cases discussed with his counterpart, the “common denominator was the destabilising role of Turkey and its neo-Ottoman expansionist tendencies”. The Greek Foreign Minister even raised the issue of exports of military equipment to Turkey and the fact that this equipment destabilises all countries in the region, while expressing his concern about Turkey’s role in Syria.

The latest developments in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh were also mentioned, while the Cyprus issue was also discussed, based on the UN Security Council Resolutions, with Minister Dendias stressing that “Russia holds a pivotal role as a permanent Member of the Security Council; it strongly and steadily supports the relevant efforts that are being launched, something that Greece particularly appreciates”.

Regarding the Greek-Russian relations, Minister Dendias stressed that the two countries and their peoples are connected through a long-term, strong friendship rooted in history, culture, religion, mutual respect and mutual understanding, while emphasising that Greece will keep communication channels with Russia steadily open. He noted that Greece, an EU and NATO Member State, seeks and works to maintain and strengthen the channels of communication between these organisations and Russia through the institutionalised structures.

He pointed out that, in terms of Greek-Russian economic relations, special emphasis was placed on energy, the economic and cultural sectors and especially on energy issues, with Greece looking forward to the continuation of mutually beneficial cooperation and its expansion in areas such as Renewable Energy Sources.

The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that at, bilateral level, there is mutual interest in overcoming the reduction of bilateral trade as soon as possible, while as soon as conditions allow, the joint inter-ministerial committee for economic, industrial, scientific and technological cooperation will be held. He further expressed his appreciation to Greece as the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the signature of important documents, including the Athens Declaration and important initiatives for education and culture.

Turkish aggression was the focus of the meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister Sergey Lavrov that took place in Maximos Mansion. Premier Mitsotakis reiterated that Greece is on the side of International Law, as evidenced by the agreements on the Exclusive Economic Zones with Egypt and Italy. Addressing Minister Lavrov, he said he wanted to brief him on Turkey’s actions, which violate International Law and undermine peace in many sensitive points of the map.

For his part, Minister Lavrov stressed the need to de-escalate tensions in the region as soon as possible through a direct dialogue between the two sides and said that Moscow was ready to help normalise the situation.

Main opposition Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras also met with visiting Russian Foreign Minister at the historic building of the Russian Embassy in downtown Athens. During the meeting, the two interlocutors also discussed developments in the wider region, with emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean. Alexis Tsipras stressed the importance of terminating the Turkish aggression in order to advance the investigations and the resumption of talks for a fair and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN Resolutions with the withdrawal of the occupying forces and the abolition of guarantees.

 

Pictured above: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis receives visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov; the two delegations in conference with Premier Mitsotakis, headed by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Minister Sergey Lavrov; the two Foreign Ministers sign a Joint Memorandum; the two Foreign Ministers give joint statements to the press; the two delegations in conference at the Foreign Ministry; Minister Lavrov receives main opposition party Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras.

 

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA & Syriza.)

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples

 

Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

“Having examined the issue thoroughly, we agreed that Greece and Albania would jointly take recourse to international justice, the International Court at The Hague, on the issue,” Minister Dendias said following a meeting with Premier Rama. “This agreement is based on the consistent adherence by both countries to international legality and the principle of resolving differences peacefully,” he added. The Greek Foreign Minister noted that the two countries “also referred to the Greece-Albania agreement of 1996 and we agreed that this treaty requires deepening and strengthening. We decided to proceed jointly to a new strategic collaboration agreement between the two countries and to set up a G2G meeting and mechanism between the two friendly countries.”

The two officials also discussed the issue of an outstanding state of war, on paper, which Minister Dendias called “an anachronism” and said would be resolved. They also discussed the issue of minorities and the spirit that should underpin good neighbourhood relations. The accession of Albania to the European Union is a joint goal of both countries he underlined, noting Greece’s consistent support of accession for West Balkan countries.

Turkey, on the other hand, Minister Dendias said “is moving in the opposite direction… continuing to violate fundamental EU accession criteria – both political and economic – on a daily basis.”

Minister Dendias was in Tirana for a series of meetings with Albania’s State and political authorities. Following his meeting with Premier Rama, he also met separately with acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj, President of Albania Ilir Meta, the Presidents of the Democratic Party and the Unity for Human Rights Party, Lulzim Basha and Vangjel Dule, respectively, with Greek entrepreneurs who are active in Albania, as well as with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios.

“Albanian-Greek relations are among the main priorities of our foreign policy and these relations must continue to develop in the spirit of good neighbourliness, linked to strategic interests, close cooperation in NATO, a common European perspective and the two countries’ economic interests,” Albanian President Ilir Meta stated during his reception of the visiting Greek Foreign Minister.

The President expressed his gratitude for the continued support of Greece in the European perspective of Albania, as a national and strategic goal. In addition, he assessed that the Greek minority in Albania represents a strong bridge for the two States’ long-term friendship and, together with the Albanians living in Greece, constitute the foundations of healthy and long-term relations between them. President Meta also voiced his gratitude for the solidarity and support Greece exhibited in the aftermath of the November 2019 earthquake, as well as for cooperation with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regarding the issue of the demarcation of the maritime space between the two countries, the President of the Republic stressed that he has and will continue to encourage the resolution of the issue through honest dialogue and mutual respect, aiming at a permanent and lasting solution.

In summary, this successful visit of the Head of the Greek Diplomacy and consequently the  EEZ agreement, enables Greece again to show itself as a country that is capable of settling outstanding disputes with its neighbours on the basis of International Law. Furthermore, the approach on such a crucial issue could and should “unlock” Greek-Albanian relations, creating a favourable climate for Tirana and Athens to press the restart button in the interest of both peoples.

 

Photographs above: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pictured during his meetings in Tirana with – President of Albania Ilir Meta; Prime Minister Edi Rama; and acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj.

(Photographs: H.Akriviadis/MoFA.)

Interview with H.E. the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, Shorsh Khalid Said

 

 

 

Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth.

Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

 

GDL: What is Iraq’s role as a critical global partner and a stabilising force in the Middle East? What are the main aspects of your foreign policy?

SKS: Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth. Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

We were able to put an end to the isolation imposed on Iraq, and today Iraq enjoys a large and strong network of relations with its neighbouring and regional countries, as well as with the European Union and the countries of the world. We have strong relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America, and in many cases we played a positive role for the convergence of views between the two parties, as well as between some Arab Gulf States and Iran, as Iraq refuses to enter into alliances or blocs against any country.

In addition, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed by Iraq and the European Union constitutes a long-term agreement that establishes a legal framework for cooperation between Iraq and the EU in areas of common interest, such as democracy, human rights, economic and commercial affairs, immigration, security, energy and the environment, to name a few.

Iraq today also maintains distinguished relations with the Russian Federation and China and has become a key partner of the international coalition to fight terrorism; as the great sacrifices Iraq made to eliminate the so-called Caliphate and ensure stability in the region are widely acknowledged.

All in all, Iraq’s foreign policy is based on the value of peace and aims at normalising its diplomatic relations with the international community on the basis of cooperation, respect of mutual interests and in accordance with International Law, adopting the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, and in turn, not allowing any country to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq.

GDL: How concerned is Iraq with the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East?

SKS: Of course, Iraq is concerned about any deterioration occurring, whether it is in the Middle East or in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it can have a negative impact on the whole region as far as security, humanitarian, economic and political matters are concerned.

We have all witnessed how the deterioration of the situation in Syria has reflected on the security and economic situation in Iraq, due to the crossing of thousands of terrorists into our country through the Syrian territory, in addition to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. As a matter of fact, as a result of the events in the region, more than a million refugees sought refuge in Europe, not to mention the great human losses and the humanitarian repercussions and destruction.

We are also monitoring events in the Eastern Mediterranean and we hope that Turkey, Greece and Cyprus will resolve their differences through diplomacy, in accordance with international laws and the Law of the Sea. We see that the EU is working with a positive approach to resolve these issues. The Eastern Mediterranean is a distinct and very important geographical region, as it mediates between East and West and any deterioration of the situation, God forbid, would be a disaster affecting everyone.

 

“The new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs.

Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account.”

 

GDL: Iraq is experiencing violations of its territorial integrity and threats to its political unity and sovereignty? How do you cope with this alarming situation?

SKS: After the great change in the political system since 2003, we were able to reduce the problems with neighbouring countries, especially with the brotherly State of Kuwait and the friendly Islamic Republic of Iran. As I mentioned earlier, the new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs. Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account. Iraq is the gateway for European and Turkish trade to the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region and we seek to strengthen and develop trade relations with friends in Turkey, as the volume of bilateral trade exchange amounts to more than 10 billion US dollars annually.

However, there is a growing concern about the interference of neighbouring Turkey in Iraq and its repeated bombing of our lands, which leads to great losses in civilians’ lives and destruction of large areas of agricultural land and property of citizens, displacing large numbers of them. We also reject the occupation of parts of our lands by the Turkish forces in Bashiqa and areas of Dohuk Governorate, as Turkey has established 37 checkpoints within the Iraqi borders without any prior coordination with the Iraqi Government. We affirm that these attacks are a violation of international principles of good neighbourliness and conventions on relations between States. Turkey is using illogical justifications for its military operations, as the increase in the presence of PKK, which in reality came as a result of a peace agreement concluded between the Turkish Government and the aforementioned organisation in 2013. At the time of this agreement, Iraq protested about it strongly to the Security Council. This concerns an internal Turkish problem that Turkey exported to Iraq, using it as a pretext for intervention and attacks. We reaffirm that Iraq refuses to use its territory as an arena for aggressions against any neighbouring country, for security threats or international conflicts, as stipulated in the Iraqi Constitution, and we call upon Turkey to respect that.

GDL: In democratic states, the foundations of national policy are the respect of International Law and the Principle of Good Neighbourly Relations. Unfortunately certain countries insist on provocation, illicit rhetoric and gunboat diplomacy. How can anyone engage in dialogue with a neighbour under a climate of distrust and lack of credibility? What is Iraq’s position?

SKS: Iraq’s views are based on the principles of ending tensions, promoting dialogue and respecting International Law and Sovereignty of States as the means to achieve peace. International law should be respected by all and at all times. You do not pick and choose when to adhere to International law.

Starting a war is very easy, but putting an end to it is the difficult part, while its cost in material and moral terms is very high. We, in Iraq, with great regret, have witnessed several wars and its concurring tragedies in recent history. We know that achieving peace and political harmony can sometimes be very difficult and requests the largest amount of endurance and patience. As the renowned author Anaȉs Nin has put it: “Peace is like a war, a battle that has armies and crowds, plans, goals and self-confidence is a battle against all the complications of defeat”.

GDL: What are the regional challenges that Iraq faces now and how would you describe your relations with Iran and Syria?

SKS: Iraq, thanks to its geostrategic position, has become since ancient times a river, land and sea crossing between continents. There is no doubt that the challenges for Iraq increased with the exacerbation of conflicts, bringing instability, due to the contradictory interests of the major countries in the region, which have also led to external interventions. Our goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming an arena for these conflicts, just like it happened in the case of terrorism that spilled over and posed a great challenge for Iraq and for the whole world. Therefore, we work with the international coalition and other parties to prevent allowing any room for the re-emergence of terrorist elements, whatever their name, scope or origin.

That said, Iraq maintains good relations with neighbouring Syria. We have diplomatic representation. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, our position was clear; against any military intervention. We emphasised the need to respect the choice of the Syrian people by establishing a democratic political settlement in Syria and not interfering in its internal affairs. Certainly, we are concerned about the situation in Syria, as it has a direct impact on Iraq. There are thousands of terrorists who entered Iraq from Syria. Therefore, we support the stability of the situation in Syria and the solution of the problems through political dialogue so that the refugees can return to their areas and turn from the page of destruction to the reconstruction chapter.

Concerning our relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran they can be characterised as strong. Our borders extend to more than 1,000 miles. The bilateral trade exchange amounts to approximately 12 billion dollars annually and there are also social, cultural and religious ties that connect us. For the record, we should note that Iran was at the forefront of the countries that helped Iraq after Daesh terrorist groups took control over large areas in Iraq.

GDL: The recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister and the Deputy Minister to Baghdad revealed the interest of Greek investment in the reconstruction plan in Iraq and the potential of bilateral cooperation in many fields. What are the favourite sectors that both sides should focus upon?

SKS: The recent visit of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kostas Fragogiannis, to Baghdad indeed highlighted the interest for Greek investments in the reconstruction plan of Iraq, but also the interest of Baghdad for benefiting from the Greek experience in the field of renewable energy sources, as well as in the field of restoration of archaeological sites and the archiving of all Iraqi antiquities. Daesh terrorist groups destroyed the largest museum in Mosul, and this is another field in which the Greek know-how is important to us. Issues relating to maritime transport and more specifically shipbuilding and port construction, as well as other projects within the framework of cooperation for the reconstruction of Iraq, were also discussed such as the construction of cities, city street planning, to name but a few.

Three Memorandums of Understanding were signed during this visit. One concerned the political consultations between the two countries; the second was about the cooperation of the Greek diplomatic academy with Iraq and the third, and extremely important, concerns the encouragement of investments between the two countries. There were plans for signing more memorandums, relating to health, agricultural policy, transportation, however, the acceleration of the visit did not allow enough time for their preparation.

It is important to note that our trade exchange has grown to more than 4.5 billion euros, as in 2019 Iraq ranked as the third most important exporter to Greece, on an international scale, bringing it to the first place of trade partners to Greece amongst all Arab countries.

Greek companies have proved to be a key partner to Iraq, especially when it comes to health, manufacturing and construction. Defeating terrorism has brought a number of new business development opportunities in Iraq, placing the reconstruction of the country in the centre of it all. As Greeks enter the Iraqi market of course there will be an increasing interest for partnerships on the Iraqi side to enter the Greek market. I am confident that Iraqi businesses would be eager to invest in Greece following a combined effort to facilitate the obtainment of visas and advertise and promote the opportunities of investment.

 

“It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.”

 

GDL: Your Excellency, how can Greece promote Iraq-EU relations, particularly support towards the consolidation of security?

SKS: It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis. We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.

Iraq on its part has achieved, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of its great people and support of its friends, to liberate its entire territory from Daesh terrorist groups and successfully restore security and stability on its grounds. I strongly believe this new environment constitutes a great opportunity for European companies to acquire a large share of the reconstruction of cities which were destroyed by Daesh terrorist groups and also of the reconstruction of infrastructure in other Iraqi provinces. Iraq is ranked 33rd when it comes to the 2019 volume of trade exchange with the European Union and needless to say that the Iraqi Government is engaged in providing the appropriate conditions and necessary facilities to European companies through regulations and laws that support the European investor.

Indeed, financial advancement can help consolidate a new political culture, based on confidence in democratic governance, which can in turn establish an environment of unity and consolidation of security.

GDL: For some time, security breaches have strained Iraqi-US relations. What needs to be done and do you foresee a change in US policy toward Iraq under the new US Administration?

SKS: We appreciate and thank all the countries that have supported Iraq in the war against terrorism, especially the United States of America. We do have strong relations with the USA, which were further enhanced since 2008 through the Strategic Framework Agreement, an important political, economic and security agreement that organises the temporary presence of the US military forces, as well as their withdrawal from Iraq.

What happened a few weeks ago was a shooting by outlaws at areas near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The Government and most of the parties in the Iraqi Parliament condemned this act and the Government made great efforts to halt such attacks, and indeed they have stopped.

President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi extended congratulations to the President elect Joe Biden, whose relationship with the Iraqi leadership is old and strong. Actually, before Mr. Biden took office as Vice President in the Obama Administration, he had visited Iraq several times. I do not think there will be major changes in the US policy concerning Iraq, but we look forward to strengthening the strategic relations between our countries towards a future based on mutual respect and close cooperation to overcome any challenges ahead, support peace and security and ultimately achieve prosperity.

GDL: The Islamic State (ISIS) is quietly rising from the ashes in parts of Iraq and Syria. Is this resilience due to the lack of State’s indecisiveness or because of the assistance shown to it by its network of affiliates and allies? How can the international community eradicate this unjustifiable terrorist organisation?

SKS: This terrorist organisation several years ago was controlling large areas in Iraq and other countries and declared the Caliphate, but thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the children of Iraqis and with the help of the international coalition and other countries we were able to eliminate this terrorist organisation and destroy this imaginary Caliphate. Now this terrorist organisation has been weakened, leaving it unable to launch large attacks or control areas in Iraq.

However, there are some small cells that appear here and there that are quickly eliminated, while some cells are also found in some European countries and in Africa. Terrorism is a problem for everyone. Therefore, we must continue to cooperate and work together to exchange security information about their movements and activities and to dry up their financial resources.

The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance. We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.

GDL: What initiatives has the Iraqi Government undertaken to bring back to their origin displayed populations?

SKS: The post-conflict period allowed for the return of over 4.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas of origin. However, there are challenges in areas of displacement and in areas of return that still need to be addressed. According to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and Return Index, the lack of job opportunities, lack of services and shelter are the three key factors hindering return.

The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement is determined to develop a plan in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning to facilitate the return of the displaced persons to their homes and their smooth reintegration. The UN also has a great role when it comes to the coordination for the return of the IDPs, as well as the humanitarian organisations in Mosul, and we call on countries around the world to stand with this issue. We should note, however, that according to PAX NGO, in 2020 nearly 50,000 acres of land were burned due to Turkish military campaigns taking place in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, causing civilian casualties and deaths, displacement of thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and damaging fragile ecosystems.

 

“The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance.

We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.”

 

GDL: Iraqi-Greek civilizations are among the most ancient civilizations in the world with both countries relations categorised as longstanding and important. What is the pace of current relations and, in your opinion, how can they be enhanced?

SKS: The historical ties of Iraq and Greece go a long way back. Our shared cultures and values constitute a living guarantee for our excellent cooperation for years to come. And even in troubled times, when faced with terrorism and financial challenges, the bilateral relations between Greece and Iraq have been growing stronger thanks to the drive and willingness of both countries.

Greece has supported Iraq through the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh terrorist groups, through the EU and NATO, has provided support to the Iraqi Armed Forces in the field of training and has also received an important number of Iraqi immigrants. During the recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Iraq we thanked Greece for its treatment and support provided to the Iraqis living in the country, despite the financial difficulties. It should be noted, however, that the number of immigrants from Iraq to Greece has decreased after the improvement of security in the country and the victory over Daesh.

Iraq and Greece also cooperate and support each other in all international organisations. Iraq already participates in the 3+1 framework of cooperation of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan and is also part of the Ancient Civilisations Forum, a Greek initiative. As a matter of fact, Iraq, Ancient Mesopotamia, is not only the cradle of great and ancient civilisations, but also is a country where the catastrophic contemporary barbarity against monuments of civilisation has been manifested. Both Iraq and Greece have a rich and very old cultural heritage; and we cherish that in our cooperation. Greece’s democratic history, proven know-how concerning tourism, academia, RES and agriculture, are an unparallel match to the focus Iraq places on education, democratic institutions, energy alternatives and growing tourism.

GDL: Mr. Ambassador, you have been posted as the Iraqi Envoy to Greece since January 2019, how have you found diplomatic life in Athens, and what do you foresee changing, if anything, for the future of the diplomacy sector under the light of social restrictions?

SKS: Let me take this opportunity to say that I am honoured to have been working in Greece as an Ambassador. Greece is widely known for its cultural heritage and rich history. But apart from this, I witnessed first-hand the hospitality of your country and I must say I have great admiration for the peaceful and tasteful Greek people. Greece is indeed a beautiful country, full of potentials and diplomatic activity.

However, like many sectors of public and private life, diplomacy has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most importantly, the Covid-19 crisis has shown us that the world needs to cooperate and increase the budget allocated to health, in comparison to other sectors, not only to overcome the current pandemic, but also in order to be prepared for any other similar crisis in the future.

During the pandemic, diplomacy moved to new work settings, such as online conversations and teleconferences. Our experience has the potential to lead to more effective diplomacy. The first and most obvious working change, in times of the pandemic, relates to time management, as a direct consequence of cancelled travel. But most importantly, we should grab this opportunity to benefit from the use of digital technologies in all aspects of work life.

The changes we witness now will in all probability have an ongoing impact in a way that post-pandemic planning for Foreign Ministries can bring transformational change to diplomacy and global governance.

 

Interview by Nicolas Boutsikos
Editor, Greek Diplomatic Life

President Pavlopoulos on State Visit to Montenegro

 

“Excellent political relations should be enhanced with stronger cooperation in the field of the economy.”

 

President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, paid a two-day State Visit to Montenegro on March 7th-8th at the invitation of the President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović. President Pavlopoulos’ programme included a meeting with the Parliament President Ivan Brajović and a working dinner held by Prime Minister Duško Marković. He also visited the Law School of the University of Montenegro where he addressed a lecture on the ‘Rule of Law and European Unification’.

 

President Pavlopoulos sent a clear message from Podgorica that if neighbouring countries want to have a European future they should fully respect the European acquis and International Law and have resolved their differences with the other EU countries in the region. In his statement during his meeting with President Đukanović he said that “the European prospect of our neighbours contains two self-evident conditions, which we must point out in all sincerity. If they want to have European prospects, they must respect the European acquis and International Law.”

Referring to North Macedonia, he noted that Greece favours its accession to the EU, clarifying however that this prospect requires, in addition, full respect of the Prespes Agreement signed with Greece. The Agreement, he said, “must be interpreted and implemented in a way that will not allow any trace of irredentism. Any other tactic would obviously hinder the progress of the Republic of North Macedonia in its European accession course.”

On Greek-Turkish relations, the Greek Head of State reiterated that “Greece seeks relations of friendship and good neighbourhood and supports Turkey’s European accession prospect,” adding that “the Treaties of Lausanne and Paris, which are totally clear and comprehensive, leave no room for doubt and should be totally respected by all.” He added that regarding the Economic Exclusive Zone, Turkey must respect the Law of the Sea.

On Albania and its European prospect, “which Greece does not oppose” he said that “behaviours as those against the Greek minority constitute an insurmountable obstacle for Albania’s smooth accession to the European Union.” Another obstacle, he said, is “any claim of entirely unwarranted so-called rights of the Albanian Cams, ruthless associates of the Nazis, as it has been historically proven.”

President Pavlopoulos also referred to the Cyprus issue, noting that it is an international and mostly European issue, adding that it must be resolved as soon as possible in a fair and sustainable way.

Finally, President Pavlopoulos pointed out that the participation of all the Balkan countries in the EU is undeniably a guarantee for the peaceful co-existence and common creative course of countries and peoples of the region. Greece, he said, sincerely and practically supports Montenegro’s access to the European Union and is ready to contribute and support towards this direction. He also expressed the hope that this is the first visit of a Greek President to Montenegro after its independence and the establishment of diplomatic ties with Greece and will essentially contribute in the further strengthening of the already very good relations between the two countries. Montenegro is a country of European values and has made the most progress on the road to the EU compared to other Western Balkan countries, the President of the Hellenic Republic said during a working dinner with Prime Minister Duško Marković.

President Pavlopoulos said that Montenegro can count on Greece and all its help in further continuation of the integration process. He estimated that on this path, Europe must remain attractive with a strong European perspective for the Western Balkans region.

 

Prime Minister Marković expressed gratitude for the partnership, friendship and support to Montenegro in achieving its development vision and pointed to the good results achieved in economic policy in the past two years. He highlighted the success in implementing financial consolidation and stabilising public finances, reducing unemployment and pointed to economic growth at a rate of over 4.5%. “The plan is to attain a budget surplus by 2020 and to reduce the level of public debt,” the Prime Minister emphasised.

Both sides agreed that there is plenty of space for strengthening economic relations, especially in the areas of tourism and energy, in which Montenegro has exceptional development potentials. The role of Parliaments, as the strongest basis and pillar of the EU Member States, is enormous, because the Union is based on the representative democracy and the Rule of Law – it was concluded, among other things, at the meeting of the President of the Parliament of Montenegro Ivan Brajović with President Pavlopoulos.

 

Parliament President Brajović pointed out that the Parliamentary dimension of strengthening stability and cooperation among countries in the region would be especially covered at the upcoming 16th Conference of Speakers of Parliaments of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative which will be held in Budva, where Deputy Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, Georgios Varemenos, will also participate.

The Greek Head of State emphasised that the international role of Montenegro was measured by the degree of its Europeanism and in line with consistent implementation of principles it shared with the community of European nations. The Parliament of Montenegro could significantly contribute to this, by cooperating with European Parliaments and by adopting European legislation.

Parliament President Brajović thanked Greece for its support so far on Montenegro’s Euro-Atlantic and European path and pointed out that excellent political relations should be enhanced with stronger cooperation in the field of economy.

 

Pictured above: President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos is welcomed to Podgorica by his Montenegrin counterpart, Milo Đukanović; with Prime Minister Duško Marković and the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanović and George Katrougalos; with President of Montenegro’s Parliament Ivan Brajović.

84th TIF: a business platform for upgrading relations between India & Greece

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - FEBRUARY 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

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The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JANUARY 2020

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

Read More »

The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

Read More »

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - DECEMBER 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

Read More »

The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

Read More »

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

Read More »

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - NOVEMBER 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

Read More »

The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

Read More »

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

Read More »

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

 

 

Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at the airport on behalf of the Greek Government before he met individually with his Greek counterpart and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The signing of the EEZ partial delimitation agreement on August 6th and its entry into force is a milestone for relations between our countries, as well as for the wider region,” President Sakellaropoulou said during her meeting with the visiting Egyptian President. She pointed out that it is very important for Greece and herself, personally, that the country is today welcoming the leader of a great, friendly nation, which is also a pillar of stability in the region and a real leader of power in the Muslim and Arab world. “A country associated with Greece, with long-standing relations of friendship, respect and culture,” she added.

The Greek Head of State also referred to the escalation of Turkish aggression and delinquency and condemned the recent resurgence of terrorism with religion as a pretext, emphasising that it is indisputable that religious values have nothing to do with acts of extremism.

On his part, the Egyptian President thanked President Sakellaropoulou for the warm welcome and referred to the long-term relationship between the two countries expressing his confidence that their discussions will be constructive. He agreed with his Greek counterpart regarding the agreement of August 6th, noting that it will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations and added that other agreements will follow. He also stressed that Egypt will stand by Greece and in support of its rights, on any issue related to the country’s security and maritime borders. Finally, the Egyptian President agreed that recent terrorist acts have nothing to do with religion or with what some believe, but are the acts of extremists, which must not lead to religious conflicts.

The Greek President addressing her distinguished guests in a State Dinner in honour of her counterpart she stressed that the Greek-Egyptian relationship is characterised by “cooperation, mutual respect, trust and appreciation and on the other hand, is an indisputable witness of the mutual will to further develop our cooperation in a number of areas, political, defence, economic, energy,” she said.

In response, President Al-Sisi noted that the common values, mutual interests and close cultural ties between Egypt and Greece make the two friendly countries an important bridge of meeting, dialogue and cooperation between the Arab and Islamic worlds on the one hand, and the European continent on the other. “It places on our shoulders the common responsibility to spread the values of peace, tolerance, rejection of violence and mutual respect between the peoples and cultures of the southern and northern Mediterranean,” he continued.

After a meeting with the President of Egypt, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “trilateral cooperation is a foundation of peace, stability and prosperity; a foundation that Greece, Egypt and Cyprus are steadily serving.”

During their joint news conference, Premier Mitsotakis stated that Greece and Egypt will welcome “a more decisive role of the United States in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean” .

“In our troubled region, our two countries have already set an example of peace and cooperation with an emblematic moment on August 6th, when they signed an agreement on the partial delimitation of maritime zones and our common intention to continue consultations so that this agreement can be extended,” Premier Mitsotakis said.

“It is a very important development. This agreement is the best example of how, when we are guided by International Law, the rules of good neighbourly relations and respect, we reach agreements that benefit our peoples,” he added. These are “emblematic actions that generate conquests of peace and cooperation,” the Premier stressed, adding that “contrary to the stance of neighbouring Turkey, the Mediterranean can become a sea that unites instead of dividing peoples.”

Premier Mitsotakis said his talks with Egypt’s President had focused on the EastMed pipeline, while adding that “every country can participate, provided it abstains from provocations and respects International Law.” “Greece and Egypt are partners with mutual export relations and common strategic goals,” he said, stressing that “soon both countries will be even more attractive investment destinations.”

The Prime Minister also spoke about migration, highlighting Egypt’s important role “in stopping migration flows”, but also its participation in the ceasefire agreement in Libya, which he said was “due to Egypt”. “We all feel Egypt’s important role as a beacon of moderate, of true Islam. Especially in times, like the present, when certain forces are attempting to don a religious mantle,” he added.

Closing his statements, Premier Mitsotakis referred to a historical event: “As of today, 78 years ago the historic battle of El Alamein was concluding with the famous victory of the allies; A starting point for the liberation of Europe. Among those fighters were thousands of Greeks who made Egypt the base of their struggle. Our countries have always been together. Then in war, today in peace and tomorrow in growth and prosperity.”

On his part, President Al-Sisi said: “We discussed the events in our region and the adoption of policies by some that are at odds with the international community and we agreed to jointly address all those who want to threaten peace.” “We also agreed to strengthen each other in terms of defence relations,” he added.

“We agreed on a just solution to the Cyprus problem based on International Law and referred to the situation in Libya, where we agreed that there should be a political solution that will bring peace and stability to the region,” the Egyptian President said, adding that they also agreed on the immediate need to tackle international terrorism and stop the countries that support it. “We have also agreed that global terrorism has nothing to do with religion and we reject any insult to any religion,” the Egyptian Head of State added.

“Greece and Egypt recollect the UN Charter, respect the principles of good faith and good neighbour relations and seek stability in the wider region,” stated Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas, welcoming visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the Greek Parliament. “International Law, peace and growth are in the interests of the peoples,” he added, referring to the exemplary cooperation between Greece and Egypt.

“I welcome you to my country, to the Greek Parliament, which later today will sign an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sector between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.

On his part, the Egyptian President conveyed the Egyptian people’s respect for the Greek people: “The message is the long and constant relationship between the two countries throughout history,” he said, and thanked Greece for “conveying the voice of Egypt to the European Parliaments,” adding that the relations of the two countries will continue with a series of visits and contacts between representatives of the two Parliaments.

“Egypt is an eternal friend which will stand by your side,” the Egyptian Head of State concluded.

Pictured above: President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou grants a State Ceremony for visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; President Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis give statements to the press; the two delegations in conference; with Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas; Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias welcomes the visiting Egyptian Head of State; President Al-Sisi, accompanied by Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos and higher members of the Greek Armed Forces, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis, G.Vitsaras/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA, T.Manolopoulos/Hellenic Presidency & F.Kanellidou/Hellenic Parliament.)

Official Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to Greece

 

Greece is “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”

 

The talks also focused on bilateral issues, including economic and energy cooperation. Minister Lavrov also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras. The last time that the Russian Foreign Minister visited Greece was in 2016. In the past two years, Minister Lavrov has met with his Greek counterpart Minister Dendias several times, on the sidelines of multilateral events. The Greek Foreign Minister also visited Moscow last year.

During his visit to Athens, the two Foreign Ministers signed a Joint Memorandum for the Russia-Greece Year of History 2021 that will coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, with Minister Lavrov describing Greece as “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”.

During their talks, Russia’s firm position on the right of each State to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles was expressed by Foreign Minister Lavrov. “Russia cannot adopt any position other than that dictated by the Law of the Sea,” he said, adding that any Member of the Treaty could register their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, respecting common sense and geographical peculiarities.

Minister Dendias explained to Minister Lavrov the escalation of the Turkish provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct illegal seismic surveys in areas within the Greek continental shelf. The Greek Minister also made it clear that Greece was ready for all contingencies and had no choice but to fully defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights.

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed that differences and problems should be resolved “only through negotiations with consideration and respect for the interests of everyone” and “on the basis of International Law.” In fact, he underlined that the Law of the Sea is key to normalising the situation. “Any problems that arise between the countries must be resolved through dialogue. No matter how difficult the situation between Greece and Turkey is we will always remain in favour of discussing and resolving these problems through direct dialogue,” he said.

Regarding regional developments, Minister Dendias pointed out that in all cases discussed with his counterpart, the “common denominator was the destabilising role of Turkey and its neo-Ottoman expansionist tendencies”. The Greek Foreign Minister even raised the issue of exports of military equipment to Turkey and the fact that this equipment destabilises all countries in the region, while expressing his concern about Turkey’s role in Syria.

The latest developments in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh were also mentioned, while the Cyprus issue was also discussed, based on the UN Security Council Resolutions, with Minister Dendias stressing that “Russia holds a pivotal role as a permanent Member of the Security Council; it strongly and steadily supports the relevant efforts that are being launched, something that Greece particularly appreciates”.

Regarding the Greek-Russian relations, Minister Dendias stressed that the two countries and their peoples are connected through a long-term, strong friendship rooted in history, culture, religion, mutual respect and mutual understanding, while emphasising that Greece will keep communication channels with Russia steadily open. He noted that Greece, an EU and NATO Member State, seeks and works to maintain and strengthen the channels of communication between these organisations and Russia through the institutionalised structures.

He pointed out that, in terms of Greek-Russian economic relations, special emphasis was placed on energy, the economic and cultural sectors and especially on energy issues, with Greece looking forward to the continuation of mutually beneficial cooperation and its expansion in areas such as Renewable Energy Sources.

The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that at, bilateral level, there is mutual interest in overcoming the reduction of bilateral trade as soon as possible, while as soon as conditions allow, the joint inter-ministerial committee for economic, industrial, scientific and technological cooperation will be held. He further expressed his appreciation to Greece as the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the signature of important documents, including the Athens Declaration and important initiatives for education and culture.

Turkish aggression was the focus of the meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister Sergey Lavrov that took place in Maximos Mansion. Premier Mitsotakis reiterated that Greece is on the side of International Law, as evidenced by the agreements on the Exclusive Economic Zones with Egypt and Italy. Addressing Minister Lavrov, he said he wanted to brief him on Turkey’s actions, which violate International Law and undermine peace in many sensitive points of the map.

For his part, Minister Lavrov stressed the need to de-escalate tensions in the region as soon as possible through a direct dialogue between the two sides and said that Moscow was ready to help normalise the situation.

Main opposition Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras also met with visiting Russian Foreign Minister at the historic building of the Russian Embassy in downtown Athens. During the meeting, the two interlocutors also discussed developments in the wider region, with emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean. Alexis Tsipras stressed the importance of terminating the Turkish aggression in order to advance the investigations and the resumption of talks for a fair and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN Resolutions with the withdrawal of the occupying forces and the abolition of guarantees.

 

Pictured above: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis receives visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov; the two delegations in conference with Premier Mitsotakis, headed by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Minister Sergey Lavrov; the two Foreign Ministers sign a Joint Memorandum; the two Foreign Ministers give joint statements to the press; the two delegations in conference at the Foreign Ministry; Minister Lavrov receives main opposition party Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras.

 

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA & Syriza.)

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples

 

Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

“Having examined the issue thoroughly, we agreed that Greece and Albania would jointly take recourse to international justice, the International Court at The Hague, on the issue,” Minister Dendias said following a meeting with Premier Rama. “This agreement is based on the consistent adherence by both countries to international legality and the principle of resolving differences peacefully,” he added. The Greek Foreign Minister noted that the two countries “also referred to the Greece-Albania agreement of 1996 and we agreed that this treaty requires deepening and strengthening. We decided to proceed jointly to a new strategic collaboration agreement between the two countries and to set up a G2G meeting and mechanism between the two friendly countries.”

The two officials also discussed the issue of an outstanding state of war, on paper, which Minister Dendias called “an anachronism” and said would be resolved. They also discussed the issue of minorities and the spirit that should underpin good neighbourhood relations. The accession of Albania to the European Union is a joint goal of both countries he underlined, noting Greece’s consistent support of accession for West Balkan countries.

Turkey, on the other hand, Minister Dendias said “is moving in the opposite direction… continuing to violate fundamental EU accession criteria – both political and economic – on a daily basis.”

Minister Dendias was in Tirana for a series of meetings with Albania’s State and political authorities. Following his meeting with Premier Rama, he also met separately with acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj, President of Albania Ilir Meta, the Presidents of the Democratic Party and the Unity for Human Rights Party, Lulzim Basha and Vangjel Dule, respectively, with Greek entrepreneurs who are active in Albania, as well as with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios.

“Albanian-Greek relations are among the main priorities of our foreign policy and these relations must continue to develop in the spirit of good neighbourliness, linked to strategic interests, close cooperation in NATO, a common European perspective and the two countries’ economic interests,” Albanian President Ilir Meta stated during his reception of the visiting Greek Foreign Minister.

The President expressed his gratitude for the continued support of Greece in the European perspective of Albania, as a national and strategic goal. In addition, he assessed that the Greek minority in Albania represents a strong bridge for the two States’ long-term friendship and, together with the Albanians living in Greece, constitute the foundations of healthy and long-term relations between them. President Meta also voiced his gratitude for the solidarity and support Greece exhibited in the aftermath of the November 2019 earthquake, as well as for cooperation with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regarding the issue of the demarcation of the maritime space between the two countries, the President of the Republic stressed that he has and will continue to encourage the resolution of the issue through honest dialogue and mutual respect, aiming at a permanent and lasting solution.

In summary, this successful visit of the Head of the Greek Diplomacy and consequently the  EEZ agreement, enables Greece again to show itself as a country that is capable of settling outstanding disputes with its neighbours on the basis of International Law. Furthermore, the approach on such a crucial issue could and should “unlock” Greek-Albanian relations, creating a favourable climate for Tirana and Athens to press the restart button in the interest of both peoples.

 

Photographs above: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pictured during his meetings in Tirana with – President of Albania Ilir Meta; Prime Minister Edi Rama; and acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj.

(Photographs: H.Akriviadis/MoFA.)

Interview with H.E. the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, Shorsh Khalid Said

 

 

 

Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth.

Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

 

GDL: What is Iraq’s role as a critical global partner and a stabilising force in the Middle East? What are the main aspects of your foreign policy?

SKS: Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth. Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

We were able to put an end to the isolation imposed on Iraq, and today Iraq enjoys a large and strong network of relations with its neighbouring and regional countries, as well as with the European Union and the countries of the world. We have strong relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America, and in many cases we played a positive role for the convergence of views between the two parties, as well as between some Arab Gulf States and Iran, as Iraq refuses to enter into alliances or blocs against any country.

In addition, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed by Iraq and the European Union constitutes a long-term agreement that establishes a legal framework for cooperation between Iraq and the EU in areas of common interest, such as democracy, human rights, economic and commercial affairs, immigration, security, energy and the environment, to name a few.

Iraq today also maintains distinguished relations with the Russian Federation and China and has become a key partner of the international coalition to fight terrorism; as the great sacrifices Iraq made to eliminate the so-called Caliphate and ensure stability in the region are widely acknowledged.

All in all, Iraq’s foreign policy is based on the value of peace and aims at normalising its diplomatic relations with the international community on the basis of cooperation, respect of mutual interests and in accordance with International Law, adopting the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, and in turn, not allowing any country to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq.

GDL: How concerned is Iraq with the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East?

SKS: Of course, Iraq is concerned about any deterioration occurring, whether it is in the Middle East or in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it can have a negative impact on the whole region as far as security, humanitarian, economic and political matters are concerned.

We have all witnessed how the deterioration of the situation in Syria has reflected on the security and economic situation in Iraq, due to the crossing of thousands of terrorists into our country through the Syrian territory, in addition to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. As a matter of fact, as a result of the events in the region, more than a million refugees sought refuge in Europe, not to mention the great human losses and the humanitarian repercussions and destruction.

We are also monitoring events in the Eastern Mediterranean and we hope that Turkey, Greece and Cyprus will resolve their differences through diplomacy, in accordance with international laws and the Law of the Sea. We see that the EU is working with a positive approach to resolve these issues. The Eastern Mediterranean is a distinct and very important geographical region, as it mediates between East and West and any deterioration of the situation, God forbid, would be a disaster affecting everyone.

 

“The new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs.

Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account.”

 

GDL: Iraq is experiencing violations of its territorial integrity and threats to its political unity and sovereignty? How do you cope with this alarming situation?

SKS: After the great change in the political system since 2003, we were able to reduce the problems with neighbouring countries, especially with the brotherly State of Kuwait and the friendly Islamic Republic of Iran. As I mentioned earlier, the new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs. Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account. Iraq is the gateway for European and Turkish trade to the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region and we seek to strengthen and develop trade relations with friends in Turkey, as the volume of bilateral trade exchange amounts to more than 10 billion US dollars annually.

However, there is a growing concern about the interference of neighbouring Turkey in Iraq and its repeated bombing of our lands, which leads to great losses in civilians’ lives and destruction of large areas of agricultural land and property of citizens, displacing large numbers of them. We also reject the occupation of parts of our lands by the Turkish forces in Bashiqa and areas of Dohuk Governorate, as Turkey has established 37 checkpoints within the Iraqi borders without any prior coordination with the Iraqi Government. We affirm that these attacks are a violation of international principles of good neighbourliness and conventions on relations between States. Turkey is using illogical justifications for its military operations, as the increase in the presence of PKK, which in reality came as a result of a peace agreement concluded between the Turkish Government and the aforementioned organisation in 2013. At the time of this agreement, Iraq protested about it strongly to the Security Council. This concerns an internal Turkish problem that Turkey exported to Iraq, using it as a pretext for intervention and attacks. We reaffirm that Iraq refuses to use its territory as an arena for aggressions against any neighbouring country, for security threats or international conflicts, as stipulated in the Iraqi Constitution, and we call upon Turkey to respect that.

GDL: In democratic states, the foundations of national policy are the respect of International Law and the Principle of Good Neighbourly Relations. Unfortunately certain countries insist on provocation, illicit rhetoric and gunboat diplomacy. How can anyone engage in dialogue with a neighbour under a climate of distrust and lack of credibility? What is Iraq’s position?

SKS: Iraq’s views are based on the principles of ending tensions, promoting dialogue and respecting International Law and Sovereignty of States as the means to achieve peace. International law should be respected by all and at all times. You do not pick and choose when to adhere to International law.

Starting a war is very easy, but putting an end to it is the difficult part, while its cost in material and moral terms is very high. We, in Iraq, with great regret, have witnessed several wars and its concurring tragedies in recent history. We know that achieving peace and political harmony can sometimes be very difficult and requests the largest amount of endurance and patience. As the renowned author Anaȉs Nin has put it: “Peace is like a war, a battle that has armies and crowds, plans, goals and self-confidence is a battle against all the complications of defeat”.

GDL: What are the regional challenges that Iraq faces now and how would you describe your relations with Iran and Syria?

SKS: Iraq, thanks to its geostrategic position, has become since ancient times a river, land and sea crossing between continents. There is no doubt that the challenges for Iraq increased with the exacerbation of conflicts, bringing instability, due to the contradictory interests of the major countries in the region, which have also led to external interventions. Our goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming an arena for these conflicts, just like it happened in the case of terrorism that spilled over and posed a great challenge for Iraq and for the whole world. Therefore, we work with the international coalition and other parties to prevent allowing any room for the re-emergence of terrorist elements, whatever their name, scope or origin.

That said, Iraq maintains good relations with neighbouring Syria. We have diplomatic representation. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, our position was clear; against any military intervention. We emphasised the need to respect the choice of the Syrian people by establishing a democratic political settlement in Syria and not interfering in its internal affairs. Certainly, we are concerned about the situation in Syria, as it has a direct impact on Iraq. There are thousands of terrorists who entered Iraq from Syria. Therefore, we support the stability of the situation in Syria and the solution of the problems through political dialogue so that the refugees can return to their areas and turn from the page of destruction to the reconstruction chapter.

Concerning our relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran they can be characterised as strong. Our borders extend to more than 1,000 miles. The bilateral trade exchange amounts to approximately 12 billion dollars annually and there are also social, cultural and religious ties that connect us. For the record, we should note that Iran was at the forefront of the countries that helped Iraq after Daesh terrorist groups took control over large areas in Iraq.

GDL: The recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister and the Deputy Minister to Baghdad revealed the interest of Greek investment in the reconstruction plan in Iraq and the potential of bilateral cooperation in many fields. What are the favourite sectors that both sides should focus upon?

SKS: The recent visit of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kostas Fragogiannis, to Baghdad indeed highlighted the interest for Greek investments in the reconstruction plan of Iraq, but also the interest of Baghdad for benefiting from the Greek experience in the field of renewable energy sources, as well as in the field of restoration of archaeological sites and the archiving of all Iraqi antiquities. Daesh terrorist groups destroyed the largest museum in Mosul, and this is another field in which the Greek know-how is important to us. Issues relating to maritime transport and more specifically shipbuilding and port construction, as well as other projects within the framework of cooperation for the reconstruction of Iraq, were also discussed such as the construction of cities, city street planning, to name but a few.

Three Memorandums of Understanding were signed during this visit. One concerned the political consultations between the two countries; the second was about the cooperation of the Greek diplomatic academy with Iraq and the third, and extremely important, concerns the encouragement of investments between the two countries. There were plans for signing more memorandums, relating to health, agricultural policy, transportation, however, the acceleration of the visit did not allow enough time for their preparation.

It is important to note that our trade exchange has grown to more than 4.5 billion euros, as in 2019 Iraq ranked as the third most important exporter to Greece, on an international scale, bringing it to the first place of trade partners to Greece amongst all Arab countries.

Greek companies have proved to be a key partner to Iraq, especially when it comes to health, manufacturing and construction. Defeating terrorism has brought a number of new business development opportunities in Iraq, placing the reconstruction of the country in the centre of it all. As Greeks enter the Iraqi market of course there will be an increasing interest for partnerships on the Iraqi side to enter the Greek market. I am confident that Iraqi businesses would be eager to invest in Greece following a combined effort to facilitate the obtainment of visas and advertise and promote the opportunities of investment.

 

“It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.”

 

GDL: Your Excellency, how can Greece promote Iraq-EU relations, particularly support towards the consolidation of security?

SKS: It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis. We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.

Iraq on its part has achieved, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of its great people and support of its friends, to liberate its entire territory from Daesh terrorist groups and successfully restore security and stability on its grounds. I strongly believe this new environment constitutes a great opportunity for European companies to acquire a large share of the reconstruction of cities which were destroyed by Daesh terrorist groups and also of the reconstruction of infrastructure in other Iraqi provinces. Iraq is ranked 33rd when it comes to the 2019 volume of trade exchange with the European Union and needless to say that the Iraqi Government is engaged in providing the appropriate conditions and necessary facilities to European companies through regulations and laws that support the European investor.

Indeed, financial advancement can help consolidate a new political culture, based on confidence in democratic governance, which can in turn establish an environment of unity and consolidation of security.

GDL: For some time, security breaches have strained Iraqi-US relations. What needs to be done and do you foresee a change in US policy toward Iraq under the new US Administration?

SKS: We appreciate and thank all the countries that have supported Iraq in the war against terrorism, especially the United States of America. We do have strong relations with the USA, which were further enhanced since 2008 through the Strategic Framework Agreement, an important political, economic and security agreement that organises the temporary presence of the US military forces, as well as their withdrawal from Iraq.

What happened a few weeks ago was a shooting by outlaws at areas near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The Government and most of the parties in the Iraqi Parliament condemned this act and the Government made great efforts to halt such attacks, and indeed they have stopped.

President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi extended congratulations to the President elect Joe Biden, whose relationship with the Iraqi leadership is old and strong. Actually, before Mr. Biden took office as Vice President in the Obama Administration, he had visited Iraq several times. I do not think there will be major changes in the US policy concerning Iraq, but we look forward to strengthening the strategic relations between our countries towards a future based on mutual respect and close cooperation to overcome any challenges ahead, support peace and security and ultimately achieve prosperity.

GDL: The Islamic State (ISIS) is quietly rising from the ashes in parts of Iraq and Syria. Is this resilience due to the lack of State’s indecisiveness or because of the assistance shown to it by its network of affiliates and allies? How can the international community eradicate this unjustifiable terrorist organisation?

SKS: This terrorist organisation several years ago was controlling large areas in Iraq and other countries and declared the Caliphate, but thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the children of Iraqis and with the help of the international coalition and other countries we were able to eliminate this terrorist organisation and destroy this imaginary Caliphate. Now this terrorist organisation has been weakened, leaving it unable to launch large attacks or control areas in Iraq.

However, there are some small cells that appear here and there that are quickly eliminated, while some cells are also found in some European countries and in Africa. Terrorism is a problem for everyone. Therefore, we must continue to cooperate and work together to exchange security information about their movements and activities and to dry up their financial resources.

The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance. We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.

GDL: What initiatives has the Iraqi Government undertaken to bring back to their origin displayed populations?

SKS: The post-conflict period allowed for the return of over 4.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas of origin. However, there are challenges in areas of displacement and in areas of return that still need to be addressed. According to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and Return Index, the lack of job opportunities, lack of services and shelter are the three key factors hindering return.

The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement is determined to develop a plan in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning to facilitate the return of the displaced persons to their homes and their smooth reintegration. The UN also has a great role when it comes to the coordination for the return of the IDPs, as well as the humanitarian organisations in Mosul, and we call on countries around the world to stand with this issue. We should note, however, that according to PAX NGO, in 2020 nearly 50,000 acres of land were burned due to Turkish military campaigns taking place in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, causing civilian casualties and deaths, displacement of thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and damaging fragile ecosystems.

 

“The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance.

We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.”

 

GDL: Iraqi-Greek civilizations are among the most ancient civilizations in the world with both countries relations categorised as longstanding and important. What is the pace of current relations and, in your opinion, how can they be enhanced?

SKS: The historical ties of Iraq and Greece go a long way back. Our shared cultures and values constitute a living guarantee for our excellent cooperation for years to come. And even in troubled times, when faced with terrorism and financial challenges, the bilateral relations between Greece and Iraq have been growing stronger thanks to the drive and willingness of both countries.

Greece has supported Iraq through the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh terrorist groups, through the EU and NATO, has provided support to the Iraqi Armed Forces in the field of training and has also received an important number of Iraqi immigrants. During the recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Iraq we thanked Greece for its treatment and support provided to the Iraqis living in the country, despite the financial difficulties. It should be noted, however, that the number of immigrants from Iraq to Greece has decreased after the improvement of security in the country and the victory over Daesh.

Iraq and Greece also cooperate and support each other in all international organisations. Iraq already participates in the 3+1 framework of cooperation of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan and is also part of the Ancient Civilisations Forum, a Greek initiative. As a matter of fact, Iraq, Ancient Mesopotamia, is not only the cradle of great and ancient civilisations, but also is a country where the catastrophic contemporary barbarity against monuments of civilisation has been manifested. Both Iraq and Greece have a rich and very old cultural heritage; and we cherish that in our cooperation. Greece’s democratic history, proven know-how concerning tourism, academia, RES and agriculture, are an unparallel match to the focus Iraq places on education, democratic institutions, energy alternatives and growing tourism.

GDL: Mr. Ambassador, you have been posted as the Iraqi Envoy to Greece since January 2019, how have you found diplomatic life in Athens, and what do you foresee changing, if anything, for the future of the diplomacy sector under the light of social restrictions?

SKS: Let me take this opportunity to say that I am honoured to have been working in Greece as an Ambassador. Greece is widely known for its cultural heritage and rich history. But apart from this, I witnessed first-hand the hospitality of your country and I must say I have great admiration for the peaceful and tasteful Greek people. Greece is indeed a beautiful country, full of potentials and diplomatic activity.

However, like many sectors of public and private life, diplomacy has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most importantly, the Covid-19 crisis has shown us that the world needs to cooperate and increase the budget allocated to health, in comparison to other sectors, not only to overcome the current pandemic, but also in order to be prepared for any other similar crisis in the future.

During the pandemic, diplomacy moved to new work settings, such as online conversations and teleconferences. Our experience has the potential to lead to more effective diplomacy. The first and most obvious working change, in times of the pandemic, relates to time management, as a direct consequence of cancelled travel. But most importantly, we should grab this opportunity to benefit from the use of digital technologies in all aspects of work life.

The changes we witness now will in all probability have an ongoing impact in a way that post-pandemic planning for Foreign Ministries can bring transformational change to diplomacy and global governance.

 

Interview by Nicolas Boutsikos
Editor, Greek Diplomatic Life

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

 

The Greek and US delegations in conference presided over by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a joint statement released after the meeting of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo, which took place in Thessaloniki at the end of September. The two sides conducted a high-level review of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue, ahead of the third Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington in 2021.

During his visit to Thessaloniki, the US Secretary of State also participated in a round table discussion on energy, in the presence of Environment and Energy Minister Costis Hatzidakis, followed by the signing of an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation between Greece and the USA, in the presence of Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis.

After Thessaloniki, the US Secretary of State travelled to Crete, where he visited the Souda Naval Base to underline the strong US security partnership with Greece.

The visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the second visit in just one year, reflects the key role that Thessaloniki plays as a growth centre for the Balkans and the role that Souda plays for geostrategic planning in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Secretary Pompeo’s visit highlights the renewed strategic relationship and the special weight of Greece as a factor of stability and security in the wider region.

On the occasion of this high-level review, they confirmed their mutual desire to deepen cooperation, in particular in the areas described below.

Secretary Pompeo pictured in discussion with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

 

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Greece shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with International Law.  In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with International Law.  The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.

The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors within the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. The United States and Greece reiterated their support for the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions according to the choice of their citizens. They highlighted Greece’s efforts to this end, noting the continued relevance of the Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO, while underscoring the importance of its consistent implementation in good faith.

 

Defence and Security

Greece and the United States expressed their intent to further enhance their strategic defence and security partnership by expanding and deepening the US-Greece Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement, which was last updated in October 2019 and greatly contributes to the security of both nations. In the coming Strategic Dialogue, both sides intend to discuss how to further assist each other in maintaining strong, capable and interoperable militaries.

 

Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism

The United States and Greece took note of their security cooperation based upon a shared interest in protecting the safety and security of both nations from terrorists, transnational criminal organisations and other threat actors. Despite the global pandemic, outstanding US-Greece law enforcement cooperation on arrests, seizures and extraditions has continued unabated. Moreover, the two countries took stock of continued improvement in border security and counterterrorism information sharing and collaboration according to international standards. They committed to full implementation of the 2016 Joint Statement on Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Programme, including beginning issuance of an updated national identification card and fully collecting and analysing air passenger data.

 

Trade and Investment

Secretary Pompeo and Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis celebrate the signing of an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation.The United States and Greece look forward to enhancing trade and investment between their two countries. The two Governments noted that Greece substantially improved its protection and enforcement of intellectual property in 2019, which resulted in Greece’s removal from the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report this year.

The United States and Greece welcomed the inauguration of new investments and acquisitions by US companies in Greece and reaffirmed their commitment to encourage that trend. The two Governments look forward to increasing cooperation on trade. The United States and Greece attach great importance on the cooperation on artificial intelligence, cyber security, 5G and privatisation of strategic infrastructure.

The two countries remain committed to enhancing the capacity of women to prosper in the workforce, succeed as entrepreneurs and be better positioned to foster economic growth.

 

Energy

The United States and Greece welcomed the completion of the Greek section of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and looked forward to discussing at the coming Strategic Dialogue their mutual support for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, the floating storage regasification unit project at Alexandroupoli, the privatisation of the Kavala underground gas storage, the Interconnection Greece – North Macedonia project and other commercially viable projects, which could include the EastMed Gas Pipeline.

Both sides welcomed the September 22nd formal establishment of the EastMed Gas Forum as a regional organisation and the on-going successful cooperation on energy through the 3+1 process.  Greece and the United States underlined the participation of ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum in offshore exploration blocks off the coast of Crete, as well the potential opportunities for US investment in the renewable energy sector, with the recently ratified Greek Law ‘Modernisation of Environmental Legislation’.

 

People-to-People Ties

The United States and Greece reaffirmed the centrality of people-to-people ties in their bilateral relations. They look forward to marking Greece’s independence bicentennial in 2021, as well as exchanging exhibitions and cooperation between museums. The United States and Greece reaffirmed their intent to strengthen links between US and Greek universities and create new joint, dual-degree and study abroad programmes.

Both countries will continue to support on-going educational and academic exchanges, including the Fulbright Programme in Greece, which marked its 72nd Anniversary in 2020. The United States and Greece agreed to continue their longstanding cooperation to protect Greece’s cultural property. Both countries also agreed to cooperate on capacity building within the creative industries, including in the film sector.

The United States and Greece also agreed to explore public-private partnerships in culture and technology.

 

Premier meets with the US Secretary in Crete

The official arrival of the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Crete.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the talks conducted with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the island of Crete, which he described as successful. He also expressed his satisfaction that Secretary Pompeo was a guest in Chania, where the Prime Minister originates, and noted that on the island of Crete “beats not just the heart of Greece and the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean. There also beats the strong pulse of Greek-US cooperation. It is no accident that we are speaking from the 115 Battle Wing of our Air Force.”

“Souda is emerging as the most strategic location of the wider region. Here, the interests of our two countries meet, along with those of security and peace,” the Prime Minister added, stressing the special importance of this visit which, as he said, “strengthens our national line ahead of the European Union summit.”

He also sent a message of unity, pointing out that “such moments we must all be united and responsible, because if we have a positive outcome in national issues, it is not the government that wins, it is Greece.”

“A visit by the US Secretary of State to our country – even more so when it is the second within 12 months – is a political event, but especially given the time it took place, its agenda and the overall climate, I think it was very important. It produces results on many levels, it has a large national scope and I think that Greece, as a whole, has every reason to be satisfied with this visit,” he said and added:

“I think that the positive footprint for our country is proven by the irritation it caused on the other side.”

The Prime Minister also referred to Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Thessaloniki, stressing that “bilateral cooperation in many areas was discussed. In the discussions we had in Crete, security issues obviously dominated. It was agreed that unilateral actions in the Mediterranean should be avoided, as well as that all members have the obligation to respect International Law.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pictured at the Souda base in Crete during which time they state that relations between the two countries have never been as close and productive as they are today, with the Premier adding that “Souda is emerging as the most strategic location of the wider region. Here, the interests of our two countries meet, along with those of security and peace.”

 

Regarding defence issues, he said “that the presence of the most modern ship of the American fleet, the USS Hershel Williams in Souda, says a lot about the future of our defence cooperation.”

“The upgraded agreement for mutual defence cooperation between Greece and the USA extends its action to the area of our joint defence industry, with its spearhead being the modernisation of 84 F-16s, but also with joint programmes and very important joint investments in Greek shipyards,” the Prime Minister noted.

“I think that on the diplomatic level also, what was said about Greece as a factor for stability in the region was very important. Let us not forget that a few days ago Mr. Pompeo was also in Cyprus. I believe that there is a very clear picture that the United States has vital interests in the Eastern Mediterranean that it is not prepared to forfeit,” the Premier added.

“The Turkish behaviour will be examined in the upcoming EU Summit in detail there and I hope that the message to Ankara will be absolutely clear: unilateral actions cause side effects, aggressive moves bring similar responses, so provocations must stop in order for dialogue to begin on our difference with Turkey, which is nothing more than the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean,” he elaborated.

Once again, Premier Mitsotakis said that “our position is very clear, that the time for diplomacy has come and it is now up to our neighbours to prove in practice if they really want a de-escalation and dialogue. Otherwise Europe has other ways to protect its interests, but also the broader security of the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

(Photos: D.Papamitsos, Office to the PM, H.Akriviadis, MoFA& S.Rapanis/Eurokinissi.)

 

State Visit of the President of the Republic to the Republic of Cyprus

 

 

Greece hails Cyprus’ determination to reach a solution that will lead to the reunification of the country

 

The situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, following Turkey’s illegal actions, the Cyprus issue and immigration were among the issues discussed during a meeting that the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, held with the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, at the Presidential Palace in Nikosia.

President Sakellaropoulou was in Cyprus for a two-day Official Visit, her first State Visit abroad after assuming her duties. The two Presidents held a tête-à-tête meeting followed by consultations with the participation of delegations from both countries. They then made joint statements to the press.

President Anastasiades stated that he had had the opportunity to reiterate to the President of Greece his will and determination to continue working tirelessly in order to reach a solution that will lead to the reunification of Cyprus. He stressed that “Turkey’s intentions to derail from the agreed basis for resolving the Cyprus issue are not only a cause for concern, but also require a more active involvement of both the United Nations and the EU.”

He said that during the meeting, they had discussed the current situation in the Aegean and the wider Eastern Mediterranean following Turkey’s provocations and illegal actions in the region. He added that they also noted the need for International Law to prevail under the Articles of the UN Charter and the Convention on the Law of the Sea, through legal proceedings that include dialogue in good faith or recourse to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

President Anastasiades said that they agreed that the violations of International Law and the disturbance of stability and peace in the region is not only a problem of Greece and Cyprus, but also a European one, noting that the borders of the two countries are also the external borders of Europe. Moreover, he said that they had evaluated the positive role played by Cyprus and Greece through the tripartite, multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries, except, as he said, unfortunately Turkey, something that is not due to Greece or Cyprus.

President Anastasiades noted that the initiatives that the two countries undertake demonstrate that respect for International Law is a key factor in the stability and peaceful coexistence of the peoples of the region. In addition, they discussed the Cyprus issue and the continuous occupation of part of the territory of Cyprus, an EU Member State, by Turkey. Among other things, he said, they discussed the Turkish threats  for the settlement of the fenced off area of Varosha in the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, as well as the lack of progress as regards the humanitarian issue of the missing persons, Greek Cypriots and Greeks after the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in the summer of 1974.

“It is our common belief that the unacceptable situation must end on the basis of UN Resolutions, Security Council decisions and EU principles and values. Within this context, we welcomed the recently expressed will of the UN Secretary-General for a new initiative on the basis of what has been agreed at the November 25th meeting in Berlin,” he stressed. Finally, the President noted that they expressed concern about the increasing migration flows, which are being systematically channelled from Turkey.

Regarding Cyprus, he pointed out the deliberate attempts by Turkey to alter the island’s demographic character either by the influx of settlers into the occupied territories or by the promotion of asylum seekers in the government-controlled areas. He stressed that the percentage of the asylum applicants in Cyprus reaches 3.8% of the population living in the government controlled areas.

President Anastasiades expressed the gratitude of Cyprus towards Greece for its long-lasting support as regards the Cyprus issue and said that he expressed to the Greek President his willingness and determination to continue tirelessly his efforts  for a Cyprus solution that would lead to the reunification of the island, based on the  UN Resolutions, the EU principles and a solution that would create a truly independent State, without the presence of  the Turkish army or the anachronistic guarantee system.

Furthermore, he said that they agreed that in this difficult time, Cyprus and Greece are defending their sovereignty and national dignity and continue their efforts with determination and with the sole aim of ending any illegal action wherever this may be coming from.

In her statements, the Greek Head of State said that her visit is indicative of the fact that the Cyprus issue constitutes a high priority of the Greek policy, adding that her visit takes place at an extremely crucial juncture amid Turkish illegal actions in the region. The Greek President emphasised that Greece and Cyprus will work together to end Turkey’s occupation of the northern portion of the island and to reunify the country. “Let us fight with unshakable faith and perseverance to end the Turkish occupation and to reunify Cyprus,” she said.

President Sakellaropoulou noted that they discussed the latest developments and in particular the consequences on the EU of Turkey’s illegal behaviour. In addition, she said they discussed the most appropriate ways of reaction on behalf of the EU in order to put an end to the Turkish actions, which continue violating the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus. Their meeting, she said, took place shortly before the important European Council.

Referring to Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis’ withdrawal from the Eastern Mediterranean and its return back to Turkey, she said that it constitutes a positive step towards de-escalation, but added that it remains to be proven whether this was a tactical move or a choice which will have a continuity.

Moreover, she said that they had discussed prospects for a Cyprus solution and the readiness of Greece to assist, if the appropriate conditions are created, for the resumption of the process from the point where talks were left in Crans Montana in July 2017.

The Greek President stated that they also discussed about the fenced off area of Varosha and the need for the UN Resolutions to be respected, as well as the humanitarian issue of missing persons and the need for the relatives to finally learn about the fate of their beloved ones.

As regards the immigration issue, she stressed the need for the new Immigration Pact to refer to a practical demonstration of European solidarity and European principles and values and to provide for a proportionate participation and burden sharing on the part of the EU Member States.

She too stressed that Greece and Cyprus are called upon to bear a very large burden on immigration, much greater than their share, and that this must be taken into account.

The Greek Head of State said that during the meeting they also addressed a number of important and international regional issues, which are of particular interest for Greece and Cyprus. She pointed out that the initiatives, with tripartite and multilateral cooperation, are based on International Law and their goal is peace, stability and development in the region.

Concluding, she thanked the President of Cyprus for Cyprus’ solidarity and humanitarian aid after the fire at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesvos.

Earlier on, during a ceremony, the Cypriot President decorated his Greek counterpart, President Sakellaropoulou, with the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, the highest order of merit awarded by Cyprus, expressing the deep gratitude of Cyprus for the long-standing support of Greece in the struggle to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

The Greek President thanked President Anastasiades noting that through this highest order Cyprus is honouring Greece and the fraternal relations that connect the two countries. Greece, she said, will always support Cyprus and the efforts to reach a just and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all Cypriots.

Whilst in Nicosia, President Sakellaropoulou met with Archbishop Chrysostomos, held a meeting with the Parliament President, Demetris Syllouris, and with the leaders of political parties. She also addressed a special plenary of the House.

During the second day of her State Visit, President Sakellaropoulou visited two cemeteries, the Imprisoned Memorial Graves and the Tomb of Makedonitissa. Upon her arrival at the Imprisoned Memorial, she was welcomed by the Minister of Justice and Public Order of Cyprus, Emili Yioliti. This was followed by the laying of wreaths and a guided tour of the area. “With profound emotion today I honoured the Greeks and Cypriots who fell for the freedom of Cyprus at the Tomb of Makedonitissa,” she said on Twitter, adding that “with perseverance and faith” we must work towards “the end of Turkish occupation” that began after their illegal invasion of the island in 1974. This touching visit was preceded by a visit to Ledra Street checkpoint and the ceasefire line, while a visit to Malounda followed.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN Resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.

 

“Let us fight with unshakable faith & perseverance to end the Turkish occupation and to reunify Cyprus,”

President Sakellaropoulou

(Photos: Th.Manopoulos/Office to the President.)

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

 

 

Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields

 

The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at the end of last month in Athens.

The two Ministers exchanged views on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey’s recent actions and expressed the hope that Turkey will adopt this approach consistently and with duration, stopping illegal actions and provocations and placing priority on dialogue. Minister Dendias noted that respect for International Law and the UN Law of the Sea, as well as good neighbourly relations, was an obligation and not a choice, as this was the only way to establish peace and stability in the region.

Minister Dendias highlighted the very good level of Greece’s bilateral relations with the UAE and said that both countries wanted to develop a strong framework of cooperation for their mutual benefit. He pointed to the steps taken in bilateral economic cooperation and in adopting renewable energy sources, while noting that recent cooperation in defence will add new depth to bilateral ties.

“Greek-UAE relations have become strategic in nature, upgrading the multi-level ties between us. In the economic sector, there is already a strong institutional foundation that we hope will lead to a new era. The Memoranda of Understanding and Joint Action Programme we concluded within the context of the two Strategic Fora we held this year will act as multipliers. We are capitalising upon the opportunities for cooperation that exist in the sectors of investments, trade, tourism and culture, health, digital services and agriculture,” he added.

Concerning their meeting, the two Ministers said that they had covered relations between the UAE and the EU, as well as the situation in the Middle East, Libya, the Gulf Region. Minister Dendias also highlighted the UAE’s important role as a country striving for stability and security in region, expressing Athens’ support for the historic agreements for normalising relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel. The Greek Minister was additionally briefed on the UAE’s efforts to promote inter-faith dialogue.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on his part, said that peace and security in the region were a shared goal for Greece and the UAE, while he condemned “the actions of other countries, including neighbouring countries that want to expand and constitute a source of danger and destabilisation in the region.” He called for closer cooperation between the two countries, noting that their ambitions were based on a common foundation of mutual respect and a desire to further deepen cooperation with Greece in the economy, trade, health, technology, infrastructure and tourism, including a doubling of bilateral trade.

During his meeting with Premier Mitsotakis were discussed ways of accelerating cooperation in areas of science and technology, food and water security, renewable energy and oil, with the two sides reiterating their countries’ determination to establish a robust strategic partnership across all fields.

 

Pictured above: visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, meets with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis; giving statements to the press with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Left: the two delegations in conference headed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

 

(Photographs: T.Bolari/Eurokinissi & H.Akriviadis/MoFA.)

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

 

Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”

 

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the context of NATO and EU-Canada relations.

No exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey can take place while the Turkish research ship ‘Oruc Reis’ remains within the Greek continental shelf, Foreign Minister Dendias said following the meeting. During joint statements to the press, Minister Dendias said that “following yesterday’s new, illegal Navtex for research just 6.5 miles from our shores, Turkey’s leadership has proven it’s not a reliable interlocutor. Instead of dialogue, instead of exploratory talks they had committed to propose dates for, they again chose escalation and the direct threat against peace and security in the area.”

Speaking of a long-term friendship between Greece and Canada, based on common values and respect of democracy, among others, the Greek Minister conveyed the appreciation of the Greek Government for Canada’s decision to welcome for relocation 50 families of vulnerable asylum applicants. He also conveyed his condolences for the loss of life of the crew of a Canadian helicopter that crashed in the Ionian Sea while on a NATO operation.

Canada is ready to be “an honest broker” in a growing dispute between Turkey and Greece over offshore exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said. Minister Champagne was in Greece for the first stop of his week-long tour of European capitals to discuss with his allies the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the war between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and the situation in Belarus. Minister Champagne expressed Canada’s interest in serving as mediator between Greece and Turkey and said the country had submitted proposals to that effect to NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. It should be clearly stated that Turkey must remain in the NATO alliance he underlined, adding that it is possible to achieve de-escalation through the alliance framework.

The visiting official also noted that Canada is already the largest non-EU investor in Greece; additionally, he cited examples of Canadian companies working in Greece, as in the metallurgical sector. Both countries are examining further collaboration opportunities, he said, promoting green economy and electromobility. Canada, he noted, wants to become “the best transatlantic partner you have.” Greece is a stable country and a State of law and order and these aspects provide a guarantee for further collaboration, he emphasised.

The top Canadian diplomat also met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss bilateral relations and the tension the Eastern Mediterranean. A statement from the Greek Prime Minister’s office said the two sides discussed “possibilities for political, economic and defence cooperation between Greece and Canada”. The office said that the Premier had also raised the issue of Turkish activities in the eastern Mediterranean which Athens says violate Greek and Cypriot sovereignty.

Pictured above: Visiting Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francois-Philippe Champagne, gives joint statements to the press with Greek Foreign Μinister Nikos Dendias; the two delegations, headed by the Foreign Ministers, meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Right: Minister Champagne is granted an audience with the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II.

 

(Photographs: Y.Panagopoulos, S.Misinas & C.Bonis/Eurokinissi.)

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

 

 

Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th.

Minister Dendias first met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq, Fuad Hussein. Their talks focused on bilateral issues, with emphasis on the economic sector and on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

After praising the historic ties between Greece and Iraq, the Minister said that the two Memoranda of Understanding signed in Baghdad between the two countries are “a testament to our mutual will to enhance these relations”. He added that many Greek companies are willing to invest and trade in Iraq, as there is great potential for cooperation in areas such as construction, energy, renewables, pharmaceuticals and more. “Allow me to take this opportunity to reaffirm my country’s full support for Iraq’s territorial integrity, for Iraq’s political unity and sovereignty. Greece fully supports a stable and prosperous Iraq as a part of a stable and prosperous region with balanced relations with its neighbours. Of course on the basis of respect to sovereignty and International law,” Minister Dendias said.

The Greek Minister also referred to the broadening of regional cooperation in terms of a “trilateral mechanism among Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.” “I had the opportunity to update my colleague on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with Turkey’s gunboat diplomacy, a practice, I have to say, of previous centuries, that unfortunately continues; particularly, regarding the illegal activities of Turkey on Greece’s continental self, as well as its decision to open the Varosha coastal front in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus. This is a violation of International Law and United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Those decisions that were broadly condemned by the international community,” he remarked.

“Greece has repeatedly stated its readiness to engage in a dialogue with Turkey,” he stressed, on the basis of respect for International Law and the principle of good neighbourly relations. “I believe it is now more evident than ever that Turkey is acting as a disruptor of peace and stability in the greater region. Virtually, every crisis and every problematic situation in the region, namely Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, Syria, Cyprus, South-Eastern Mediterranean, but also Iraq, has a common denominator: Turkey,” Minister Dendias said.

Concerning Iraq’s relations with the European Union, Minister Dendias said that Greece stands ready to support the Middle Eastern country in pursuing the promotion of these relations, particularly efforts towards consolidation of security.

On his part, Foreign Minister Hussein stated that Iraqi-Greek relations are long-standing and important for Iraq and the two countries have many commonalities, explaining that the Iraqi and Greek civilizations are among the most ancient civilizations.  He further expressed the appreciation for Greece’s positions in support of Iraq through the Global Coalition to defeat Da’esh, the European Union and NATO and thanked Greece for receiving Iraqi immigrants and for the support they provided to the Iraqi Armed Forces in the field of training.

The Greek Foreign Minister was also received by the President of Iraq, Barham Salih, and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

 

Pictured above: the two Foreign Ministers Fuad Hussein and Nikos Dendias celebrate the signing of the MoUs in the fields of political deliberations and collaboration in diplomatic education; Deputy Minister Kostas Fragogiannis signs and MoU with his Iraqi counterpart; Minister Dendias is granted an audience with President Barham Salih.

 

(Photographs: H.Akriviadis/MoFA.)

The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

 

The leaders of Greece, Italy, Cyprus, France, Portugal, Spain and Malta.

 

MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.

 

 

The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, met in Ajaccio, Corsica, on September 10th. The alliance consists of seven Mediterranean countries which are Member States of the European Union, namely Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. The most critical issues the top of the meeting’s agenda were the current developments in the Mediterranean, predominantly the Migrant Crisis and unilateral Turkish actions against Greece and Cyprus.

French President Emmanuel Macron, the official host of the meeting, opened the joint press conference of the seven country leaders. President Macron initially talked about the worrying issue of the uncontrolled migrant flows from Libya stating that the problem should be immediately dealt with.

The French President grabbed the opportunity and attacked Turkey, stressing that Ankara should adhere to the 2016 Turkey-EU deal over the refugee crisis and stop acting unilaterally. He also emphasised the important need for absolute respect towards the arms embargo on Libya, commenting that there have been some discrepancies from Europe so far, indirectly criticising the stance of Germany.

Regarding the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Macron used clear and decisive language, delivering an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus and talked about illegal drilling and unilateral provocations from the Turkish side. He stated that Europe is seeking a bona fide dialogue, but the Turkish reactions so far, are making this initiative rather difficult. Under any circumstances, Paragraph 6* of the MED7 Joint Declaration would be strictly applied, and this is something that the French President has emphasised, even though the context of Paragraph 6 with regards to the EU response towards Turkey still remains somehow generic. The French President concluded that a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary on other critical issues within the Mediterranean territory, like Lebanon and Syria.

 

The Greek Premier said that European support for Greece and Cyprus should not be just an act of solidarity, but a self-conscious action to protect the strategic interests of the European Union.

 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis followed President Emmanuel Macron. The Premier opened his speech with the recent events in the Moria camp in the Greek island of Lesbos. He thanked the other European countries for their essential support on this developing crisis and underlined that the immigration challenges, are correctly treated as a common European problem.

President Macron welcomes Prime Minister Mitsotakis.

 

Prime Minister Mitsotakis also condemned the constant violation of Greek-Cypriot rights from Turkey and referred to the illegal occupation of the northern part of Cyprus since 1974. He called upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean and he recalled that President Macron has characterised the region as Mare Nostrum, Our Sea, implicating that the European South should be the key player in this region of vital importance. He further said that European support for Greece and Cyprus should not be just an act of solidarity, but a self-conscious action to protect the strategic interests of the EU.

In the joint press conference of the ‘7’, Prime Minister Mitsotakis spoke about a very “clear message in Turkey”. “The conclusions of the Summit in paragraph 6 send a very clear message. They show the way for Turkey. If it really wants an honest dialogue with Greece, Cyprus and the EU, it must prove it in practice; to stop unilateral actions, to give convincing signs that it strictly respects international rules and not selectively.” “End of challenges, beginning of discussions,” he stressed initially, clarifying that “the Mediterranean is a vital area for European security as a whole and is not assigned to third parties”. “In the run-up to the European Council (September 24th-25th), we will prevent Turkey from attempting to divide Europe. Support for Greece and Cyprus is not an expression of solidarity, it is a recognition that strategic interests for Europe are at stake,” he added, noting that Turkey has time to take a step back. “To abstain from maritime and research activities in undelineated maritime zones, to return to the table of exploratory talks, from where it left in 2016, and if we do not agree, there is always the solution of the Hague Tribunal,” he said.

“This is the first time I have participated in the Euro-Mediterranean Conference and I can say that since its inception it has never had to face so many and complex challenges. Our sympathy has never been so strong. I wish next year, when the meeting will be hosted in Crete, that all things will be much more optimistic,” the Greek Prime Minister concluded in his statements.

The joint press conference.

 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades mentioned that the weight of the immigration crisis is disproportionate for Cyprus, which is a front-line country. He harshly criticised Turkey for using the asylum seekers as a tool of geopolitical pressure and said that a new EU asylum deal to control the migrant flows is deemed necessary. President Anastasiades talked about reckless Turkish actions that pose a risk for the wider area and complained about Ankara’s continuous war rhetoric. He also called the other countries to assist in ending the Turkish illegal exploration and drilling operations in Greek and Cypriot maritime zones. The violation of International Law and of the sovereign rights of two EU Member States are not only threatening the reliability of the European Union, but also the integrity and security of the continent as a whole he said. The Cypriot President aligned with the comments of the Greek Prime Minister, and reaffirmed that if the dialogue with Ankara is not fruitful, the Hague should definitely be an option, but also harsh sanctions against Turkey should always be on the table.

Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, praised the importance of the southern countries of Europe in dealing with EU challenges. Talking about the immigration challenges, he confirmed that the South should stop simply dealing with the results and start acting proactively. Coordination with third countries, countries of origin and transit countries, is deemed necessary to reduce the flows in European territory, while the elimination of the migrant smugglers should always be on the top of the agenda. Regarding the Greek-Turkish dispute, the Italian Prime Minister expressed his absolute solidarity toward Greece and Cyprus, condemning unilateral actions by Turkey and noted that he fully trusts the German Presidency of the EU Council and the actions of the European Council, which could lead to a swift de-escalation.

The Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, clarified that cooperation between neighbouring and friendly countries is of critical importance, expressing his full solidarity to Greece. Even though the neutral status of Malta is clearly defined in the country’s Constitution, Premier Abela stressed that International Law and sovereign rights must not be challenged under any circumstances. The Maltese Prime Minister emphasised the importance of peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that he is really optimistic over the results that the MED7 coordination could bring. Finally he referred to the refugee crisis, which is directly affecting his country, stating that the emergency could only be managed through the establishment of peace in Libya and the prompt reconstruction of a viable economy for the country.

The Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, initially discussed the Covid-19 European and global geopolitical challenges. He expressed his solidarity to Cyprus and Greece and made a special reference to the important role of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borel, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. Premier Costa repeatedly stated that a solution should be sought through negotiations and multilateral dialogue.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, focused on the immigration crisis, expressing his solidarity for the Moria incident and calling for responsible actions from the EU, adequate border control, and a dual approach that could ensure the security and well-being of the European people, always with respect for human rights and humanitarian values. In the Eastern Mediterranean front, Premier Sánchez highlighted that dialogue should be the only way forward and de-escalation has to be the top priority for Europe, through a process dictated by the European interests and led by the European institutions.

 

(Photos: D.Papamitsos/Office to the Prime Minister.)

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took this opportunity to present two major policy portfolios to lead Greece ‘stronger into the future’

 

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

 

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by TIF-Helexpo President Tasos Tzikas, TIF-Helexpo Managing Director Kyriakos Pozrikidis, Members of the Cabinet and regional officials in the installations of TIF-Helexpo in Thessaloniki.

 

The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting 84 editions of the Fair, did not remain silent, as on the days during which the Fair was planned, TIF-Helexpo SA organised a political-economic forum, declaring itself present in the rapid developments of the recent months.

TIF-Helexpo President Tasos Tzikas welcomes Premier Mitsotakis.

TIF-Helexpo continues to be on the ramparts, planning the future, despite the adverse conditions, elaborating a series of new ideas and actions, in order to be ready for the day after. Besides, exhibition activities will not stop, as they constitute a catalyst for economic growth in Greece.

The subject of the Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum, organised by TIF-Helexpo from 11th to 20th September at the ‘I. Vellidis’ Congress Centre, was ‘Politics, Economy and Society, Searching for Balance’.

Within the framework of the forum, all the most current and hotly debated topics that concern politics, the economy and society under the new conditions shaped by the pandemic were discussed over 24 panels, with dozens of speakers, including the entire political leadership of Greece.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took this opportunity to present two major policy portfolios to lead Greece ‘stronger into the future’. The Greek Government aims to relieve society from the consequences of the pandemic crisis and keep the country on a growth course, he said during his policy speech at the Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum.

“It is undoubtedly an unprecedented event. The pandemic did not allow the operation of the 85th International Fair. This time there were not the usual business meetings, or the parallel events,” the Premier said, adding that the image of today’s speech, with only 50 participants wearing masks, keeping distances, was as a result of the measures taken for the particular conditions that surround us.

“I will present the broader Government strategy for the coming period,” he said, adding that his presence in Thessaloniki was to honour the city and Northern Greece and to present, with realism, the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on society and the economy and to speak about the challenges of the country’s national policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Prime Minister said that his priority was to present the steady steps that the country will take in an unstable environment in the autumn and the coming winter, “because nothing in the world will be the same as yesterday.”

“Besides the agony and insecurity, there rises a new self-confidence, a new national optimism, that the State and citizens together will make it and exit this adventure stronger,” he said. “The crisis hit the entire planet,” he said, adding that the Government also had to deal with the intensified migration flows. “It is true that in the months that passed there was much turbulence. But that’s why I am here, to deal with the difficulties. To send a message that we can make it all together”.

“The Government plan, specialists’ instructions and the responsibility shown by citizens have made us leaders in the defence against the virus,” the Premier said, adding that even when the economy restarted the country properly managed the new wave of the pandemic. He did add however, that “as a double health crisis seizes the planet again, our country continues to manage the national front as well, since Ankara adds to the challenges in the Aegean, by undermining peace throughout the Mediterranean. It threatens the borders of Europe and undermines security in a crucial crossroad of three continents. Against threats and slogans, Greece responds with logic and arguments.”

Prime Minister Mitsotakis noted that the other side of the country’s strength is efficient diplomacy, adding that the country has proven that it has many and strong allies. “That’s why I insist that only the epilogue of provocation can become the prologue of talks.”

The Greek PM said that because of the dimensions of the pandemic’s crisis, every long-term combination could remain in the balance and every policy announcement unfulfilled. He added however, that this autumn and winter hides both traps and opportunities, that’s why they demanded not only long-term plans, but immediate short-term measures as well. “There is no vision for tomorrow unless today is served with consistency,” Premier Mitsotakis said, adding: “Nor economic recovery without social ascension. The programme of our actions has one slogan: self-confidence”.

The Prime Minister noted that in the previous years, the country’s defence sector was in conditions of disinvestment. “The time has come for a balance between needs and capabilities; time to strengthen our Armed Forces for the security of the country, but also as the top obligation to Greeks who will carry the burden. It is the price for our position on the map”.

He announced six emblematic decisions to “multiply the strength, operation and efficiency of Greek Armed Forces”.

“First, the Air Force will immediately be strengthened with a squadron of 18 Rafale fighter aircraft which will replace older Mirage aircraft. These are 4th generation aircraft. A move strengthening our defence power which, combined with the modernised F-16 aircraft and other aircraft, together make a force not to be ignored by anyone.

Second, the Navy begins procedures to include in its fleet 4 new multiple task frigates and to upgrade 4 MEKO frigates currently operating. These new vessels will be accompanied by 4 Navy Romeo helicopters, making our seas more fortified than ever.

Third, the Armed Forces weaponry will be enriched with new anti-tank weapons, new heavy type torpedoes and guided missiles.

Fourth, the Armed Forces will be renewed with the addition of 15,000 men and women with a 5-year term. The whole framework of military service and education will be re-assessed.

Fifth, we activate our defence industry. US funds are investing on the modernisation of Elefsis shipyards, a strategic investor is expected soon in the Skaramanga shipyards, the completion of the privatisation of the Hellenic Vehicle Industry is due and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry is reorganised.

Sixth, the Armed Forces will strengthen their digital operation to deal with any hybrid-type cyber-attacks.

These are 6 brave choices. Six bold answers not only to meet current needs, but also the challenges of history.”

Premier Mitsotakis also announced 12 initiatives for the economy.

“These initiatives are:

  1. Lowering social insurance contributions for both employers and workers in the private sector by 3% (from 39.7% to 36.7%) in 2021, a move designed to boost households’ income and to facilitate new hirings.
  2. Abolishing a solidarity contribution for workers in the private sector, professionals and farmers. This measure will be valid, initially, for one year in 2021.
  3. Implementing immediately an innovative programme to offer State subsidies to 100,000 new job positions. The State will cover for 6 months all contributions for employers and workers on the condition that the company will not reduce its workforce.
  4. Strengthening and expanding a ‘Syn-Ergasia’ programme by the end of 2020, covering lost wages for those who work fewer hours due to the pandemic.
  5. A programme offering State loans to enterprises, worth 1.5 billion euros, begins immediately and another round, the 4th, is expected to begin in November worth 600 million euros.
  6. Offering tax cuts for digital and green fixed-capital investments for a period of three years (2021-2023).
  7. Repayment of around 1.4 billion euros to pensioners in retrospective pension payments for the period 2015-2016 and disbursing another 460 million euros to pensioners by December as part of a new method of calculating pensions.
  8. Immediate abolition of a special property tax for the country’s 26 smallest islands.
  9. Extending until April 2021 a suspension of payment of tax and social insurance obligations to all workers and professions hit by the pandemic crisis.
  10. Expanding for another 6 months a lower VAT rate for transport, coffee, beverage, cinemas and tourist services.
  11. In cooperation with the banking system, the primary residence of vulnerable households will be excluded from auctions until the end of 2020.
  12. Extending all unemployment benefits for another two months.

These measures will support the Greek economy with 6.8 billion euros. ‘The National Self-Confidence Plan’ protects and boosts employment,” the PM said.

“The pandemic is not only hitting public health, but the national economy as well, and the Government responded last spring with a package of measures that are being constantly enriched, depending on arising needs. These new 12 initiatives aim to protect employment and productive activity as long as the pandemic crisis remains, supporting the income of the weaker. These are 12 steps of confidence, creating a road map for the coming months and 2021, so that the economy remains standing tall as a precondition for growth. Four of these initiative support labour, three liquidity for enterprises and investments and another five incomes of the weak and of the middle class which have suffered for several years. I will say it again they are the backbone of Greek society”.

Premier also referred to a reform plan for the next 12 months. “The crisis cannot be an alibi to suspend big changes,” he noted and presented these changes:

– Modernising the labour market based on recommendations made by the International Labour Office, introducing new rights safeguarding the future of labour and encouraging new job positions.

– Reforming supplementary insurance with the introduction of a capital-based system.

– Introducing new rules for debt settlement to the State and banks, offering a real second chance to businessmen, professionals and mortgage borrowers.

– Speeding-up justice with the digitisation of procedures.

– Greece will have a Professional Education System, evaluation of school units, their work and the work of teachers.

– A new land-zone plan, simplifying investment licensing particularly of renewable energy sources.

– A new public procurement framework, reducing bureaucracy and adding transparency.

– Strengthening the national health system by reorganising healthcare and hiring 4,000 personnel (mostly with those who served during the pandemic).

– Changing public services’ operations by adding 400 digital services.

– Submitting a draft bill on multi-level governance for local authorities.

“Today, the leading role is Self-Confidence of Greeks. These two programmes for Defence and the Economy, two bridges that will lead the country and Greeks out from uncertainty, into certainty; from turmoil to the calm waters of progress and hope,” the PM said.

 

Syriza

Addressing the people of Thessaloniki and Macedonia, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said that Syriza as Government “resolved a long-standing issue with our northern neighbours, as Greece’s interests dictated.” Despite his acknowledging a “change of heart in Mitsotakis to serve national interests, he still owes an apology” to the Greek people “for deceiving them”, Tsipras insisted.

The current Prime Minister “also deceived the Greek people in terms of the economy,” he added, saying that he promised more jobs and a robust economy and “brought the country to recession in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first of 2020 even before the pandemic.”

Asked why the ex-government had not introduced some of the measures he had presented at the same venue, Tsipras said that Syriza came to power under very different circumstances than the current ones and had to deal with empty coffers while being pressured to provide high primary surpluses.

“Today, the Government has at its disposal 37 billion euros in reserves of public funds that we left behind, and access to cheap borrowing,” he stressed, adding that the permanent measures Syriza proposes total 3 billion euros and “are required, absolutely realistic and doable, based on fiscal ability.” He charged that “if the Government is not implementing them, it’s because it doesn’t want to, not because it cannot.”

He detailed what he called the multiple crises Greece is facing – in health, the economy, democratic processes, ethics, society and national – and claimed “the Government is not telling the Greek people the truth.”

Stressing that the pandemic brought an end to the “omnipotency of the market”, he proposed a new Social Agreement and the introduction of 11 emergency measures to help employees, businesses and the market.

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias gives joint statements to the press with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

 

Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ maritime zones “a model application of International Law, of the Law of the Sea and of the principle of mutual respect and good neighbourliness.”

 

The two delegations in conference.

Minister Dendias noted that this agreement dealt with an issue that was pending for more than 15 years, a result of negotiations pursued in good faith, and it contributes to the exploitation of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greece-Egypt agreement is the “polar opposite of the non-existent, illegal memorandum of Turkey with the government of Tripoli, which is trying to map new, invisible regions of neighbouring borders.” “Today we had the opportunity to discuss precisely what a partial demarcation is and also how will we can restart the negotiation between us for the completion of this demarcation,” he noted.

After briefing Minister Shoukry on Turkey’s provocative actions and rhetoric, he reiterated that Greece is willing to participate in a dialogue with Turkey “for the delimitation of the continental shelf and the EEZ, provided that illegal actions, threats, blackmail come to an end, because under threat and blackmail there is no dialogue.” The withdrawal of Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis was a positive step, but was unfortunately, as he said, accompanied by a threatening rhetoric.

The two countries’ synchronisation of actions in the Eastern Mediterranean was also discussed, while the two Ministers hailed Israel’s normalisation agreements with both Bahrain and the UAE. After adding that the agreement contributes to peace and stability, the Egyptian Minister said that they had discussed cooperation of the region’s countries for the exploitation of gas and the “wealth that exists in the Eastern Mediterranean region, in accordance with International Law.” “We have rejected all provocative actions that destabilise the region and escalate tensions, which are not in the interests of either side. Together we strive for the Eastern Mediterranean to become a region of cooperation, of brotherhood, a region of peace, to contribute to the prosperity of the region.”

 

Meeting with the Prime Minister and President of the Republic

Minister Shoukry with President Sakellaropoulou.

Greece and Egypt confirmed their commitment to a tripartite leaders’ summit with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, Government sources said after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister. They also discussed further collaboration in the greater region and current developments.

Minister Shoukry with Prime Minister Mitsotakis.

During his meeting with President Sakellaropoulou both sides hailed the signing of the agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ maritime zones, which is a model application of International Law, of the Law of the Sea and of the principle of mutual respect and good neighbourliness. Both sides acknowledged that the relations of both countries are historical relationships. Relations have been strengthened in the last six years in many sectors due to the very good will of the leaders of the two countries. Minister Shoukry also noted that “we are convinced that our cooperation, our contribution and our contacts with both Greece and Cyprus, will help bring peace to the region, but also to be a wall against any challenge from the other side.”

 

(Photographs: S.Misinas, Y.Panagopoulos & T.Bolari/Eurokinissi.)

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JULY/AUGUST 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JUNE 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

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Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - MAY 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

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  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

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The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - APRIL 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - MARCH 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - FEBRUARY 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

Read More »

The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

Read More »

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

Read More »

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JANUARY 2019

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

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Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

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Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

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Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - DECEMBER 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

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Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - NOVEMBER 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

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The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

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The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

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Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS ON THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister leads Ministry delegation to Iraq

    Enhancing historic ties – Memoranda of Understanding signed   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias travelled to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Konstantinos Fragogiannis, to meet with the country’s State and political leadership on October 14th. Minister Dendias first ...

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The EU Med 7 Group Meeting faced many and complex challenges

    MED 7 countries deliver an unambiguous message of solidarity to Greece and Cyprus; a coordinated European effort is deemed necessary within the Mediterranean territory, calling upon Ankara to abstain from further provocative and unilateral actions in the Mediterranean.     The EU Med Group, widely known as MED7, ...

Read More »

The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future

    The national exhibition organiser continues to plan for the future     The preservation of public health goes beyond any financial dimension and within this context the 85th TIF did not take place this September. However, the leading institution of Thessaloniki, which has 94 years of history, counting ...

Read More »

Egyptian Foreign Minister meets with the Greek leadership in Athens

    Greece-Egypt Agreement: A model application of International Law of mutual respect and good neighbourliness   Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens on September 15th, and he called the recent Greece-Egypt agreement for the partial delimitation of the two countries’ ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JULY/AUGUST 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

    Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation   Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at ...

Read More »

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples   Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. “Having examined the issue thoroughly, we ...

Read More »

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

  Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a ...

Read More »

Foreign Minister of the UAE in Athens for talks with Greek leadership

    Establishing a robust strategic partnership across all fields   The relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after a meeting with his UAE counterpart, Foreign Minister Sheikh ...

Read More »

Minister of Foreign Affairs meets with Canadian counterpart

  Canada is ready to be “an honest broker”   Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, on October 13th for talks focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues, with emphasis on Turkey’s illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, cooperation within the ...

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - JUNE 2018

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH - MAY 2018

State Visit of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Greece

 

 

Egypt and Greece an important bridge of Meeting, Dialogue and Cooperation

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid a State Visit to Greece at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on November 11th-12th. Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias received the Egyptian Head of State at the airport on behalf of the Greek Government before he met individually with his Greek counterpart and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The signing of the EEZ partial delimitation agreement on August 6th and its entry into force is a milestone for relations between our countries, as well as for the wider region,” President Sakellaropoulou said during her meeting with the visiting Egyptian President. She pointed out that it is very important for Greece and herself, personally, that the country is today welcoming the leader of a great, friendly nation, which is also a pillar of stability in the region and a real leader of power in the Muslim and Arab world. “A country associated with Greece, with long-standing relations of friendship, respect and culture,” she added.

The Greek Head of State also referred to the escalation of Turkish aggression and delinquency and condemned the recent resurgence of terrorism with religion as a pretext, emphasising that it is indisputable that religious values have nothing to do with acts of extremism.

On his part, the Egyptian President thanked President Sakellaropoulou for the warm welcome and referred to the long-term relationship between the two countries expressing his confidence that their discussions will be constructive. He agreed with his Greek counterpart regarding the agreement of August 6th, noting that it will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations and added that other agreements will follow. He also stressed that Egypt will stand by Greece and in support of its rights, on any issue related to the country’s security and maritime borders. Finally, the Egyptian President agreed that recent terrorist acts have nothing to do with religion or with what some believe, but are the acts of extremists, which must not lead to religious conflicts.

The Greek President addressing her distinguished guests in a State Dinner in honour of her counterpart she stressed that the Greek-Egyptian relationship is characterised by “cooperation, mutual respect, trust and appreciation and on the other hand, is an indisputable witness of the mutual will to further develop our cooperation in a number of areas, political, defence, economic, energy,” she said.

In response, President Al-Sisi noted that the common values, mutual interests and close cultural ties between Egypt and Greece make the two friendly countries an important bridge of meeting, dialogue and cooperation between the Arab and Islamic worlds on the one hand, and the European continent on the other. “It places on our shoulders the common responsibility to spread the values of peace, tolerance, rejection of violence and mutual respect between the peoples and cultures of the southern and northern Mediterranean,” he continued.

After a meeting with the President of Egypt, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “trilateral cooperation is a foundation of peace, stability and prosperity; a foundation that Greece, Egypt and Cyprus are steadily serving.”

During their joint news conference, Premier Mitsotakis stated that Greece and Egypt will welcome “a more decisive role of the United States in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean” .

“In our troubled region, our two countries have already set an example of peace and cooperation with an emblematic moment on August 6th, when they signed an agreement on the partial delimitation of maritime zones and our common intention to continue consultations so that this agreement can be extended,” Premier Mitsotakis said.

“It is a very important development. This agreement is the best example of how, when we are guided by International Law, the rules of good neighbourly relations and respect, we reach agreements that benefit our peoples,” he added. These are “emblematic actions that generate conquests of peace and cooperation,” the Premier stressed, adding that “contrary to the stance of neighbouring Turkey, the Mediterranean can become a sea that unites instead of dividing peoples.”

Premier Mitsotakis said his talks with Egypt’s President had focused on the EastMed pipeline, while adding that “every country can participate, provided it abstains from provocations and respects International Law.” “Greece and Egypt are partners with mutual export relations and common strategic goals,” he said, stressing that “soon both countries will be even more attractive investment destinations.”

The Prime Minister also spoke about migration, highlighting Egypt’s important role “in stopping migration flows”, but also its participation in the ceasefire agreement in Libya, which he said was “due to Egypt”. “We all feel Egypt’s important role as a beacon of moderate, of true Islam. Especially in times, like the present, when certain forces are attempting to don a religious mantle,” he added.

Closing his statements, Premier Mitsotakis referred to a historical event: “As of today, 78 years ago the historic battle of El Alamein was concluding with the famous victory of the allies; A starting point for the liberation of Europe. Among those fighters were thousands of Greeks who made Egypt the base of their struggle. Our countries have always been together. Then in war, today in peace and tomorrow in growth and prosperity.”

On his part, President Al-Sisi said: “We discussed the events in our region and the adoption of policies by some that are at odds with the international community and we agreed to jointly address all those who want to threaten peace.” “We also agreed to strengthen each other in terms of defence relations,” he added.

“We agreed on a just solution to the Cyprus problem based on International Law and referred to the situation in Libya, where we agreed that there should be a political solution that will bring peace and stability to the region,” the Egyptian President said, adding that they also agreed on the immediate need to tackle international terrorism and stop the countries that support it. “We have also agreed that global terrorism has nothing to do with religion and we reject any insult to any religion,” the Egyptian Head of State added.

“Greece and Egypt recollect the UN Charter, respect the principles of good faith and good neighbour relations and seek stability in the wider region,” stated Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas, welcoming visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the Greek Parliament. “International Law, peace and growth are in the interests of the peoples,” he added, referring to the exemplary cooperation between Greece and Egypt.

“I welcome you to my country, to the Greek Parliament, which later today will sign an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sector between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.

On his part, the Egyptian President conveyed the Egyptian people’s respect for the Greek people: “The message is the long and constant relationship between the two countries throughout history,” he said, and thanked Greece for “conveying the voice of Egypt to the European Parliaments,” adding that the relations of the two countries will continue with a series of visits and contacts between representatives of the two Parliaments.

“Egypt is an eternal friend which will stand by your side,” the Egyptian Head of State concluded.

Pictured above: President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou grants a State Ceremony for visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; President Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis give statements to the press; the two delegations in conference; with Parliament President Constantinos Tasoulas; Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias welcomes the visiting Egyptian Head of State; President Al-Sisi, accompanied by Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos and higher members of the Greek Armed Forces, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis, G.Vitsaras/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA, T.Manolopoulos/Hellenic Presidency & F.Kanellidou/Hellenic Parliament.)

Official Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to Greece

 

Greece is “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”

 

The talks also focused on bilateral issues, including economic and energy cooperation. Minister Lavrov also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras. The last time that the Russian Foreign Minister visited Greece was in 2016. In the past two years, Minister Lavrov has met with his Greek counterpart Minister Dendias several times, on the sidelines of multilateral events. The Greek Foreign Minister also visited Moscow last year.

During his visit to Athens, the two Foreign Ministers signed a Joint Memorandum for the Russia-Greece Year of History 2021 that will coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence, with Minister Lavrov describing Greece as “one of Russia’s most important partners with long-standing historical ties of friendship”.

During their talks, Russia’s firm position on the right of each State to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles was expressed by Foreign Minister Lavrov. “Russia cannot adopt any position other than that dictated by the Law of the Sea,” he said, adding that any Member of the Treaty could register their territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, respecting common sense and geographical peculiarities.

Minister Dendias explained to Minister Lavrov the escalation of the Turkish provocative behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean to conduct illegal seismic surveys in areas within the Greek continental shelf. The Greek Minister also made it clear that Greece was ready for all contingencies and had no choice but to fully defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights.

The Russian Foreign Minister stressed that differences and problems should be resolved “only through negotiations with consideration and respect for the interests of everyone” and “on the basis of International Law.” In fact, he underlined that the Law of the Sea is key to normalising the situation. “Any problems that arise between the countries must be resolved through dialogue. No matter how difficult the situation between Greece and Turkey is we will always remain in favour of discussing and resolving these problems through direct dialogue,” he said.

Regarding regional developments, Minister Dendias pointed out that in all cases discussed with his counterpart, the “common denominator was the destabilising role of Turkey and its neo-Ottoman expansionist tendencies”. The Greek Foreign Minister even raised the issue of exports of military equipment to Turkey and the fact that this equipment destabilises all countries in the region, while expressing his concern about Turkey’s role in Syria.

The latest developments in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh were also mentioned, while the Cyprus issue was also discussed, based on the UN Security Council Resolutions, with Minister Dendias stressing that “Russia holds a pivotal role as a permanent Member of the Security Council; it strongly and steadily supports the relevant efforts that are being launched, something that Greece particularly appreciates”.

Regarding the Greek-Russian relations, Minister Dendias stressed that the two countries and their peoples are connected through a long-term, strong friendship rooted in history, culture, religion, mutual respect and mutual understanding, while emphasising that Greece will keep communication channels with Russia steadily open. He noted that Greece, an EU and NATO Member State, seeks and works to maintain and strengthen the channels of communication between these organisations and Russia through the institutionalised structures.

He pointed out that, in terms of Greek-Russian economic relations, special emphasis was placed on energy, the economic and cultural sectors and especially on energy issues, with Greece looking forward to the continuation of mutually beneficial cooperation and its expansion in areas such as Renewable Energy Sources.

The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out that at, bilateral level, there is mutual interest in overcoming the reduction of bilateral trade as soon as possible, while as soon as conditions allow, the joint inter-ministerial committee for economic, industrial, scientific and technological cooperation will be held. He further expressed his appreciation to Greece as the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the signature of important documents, including the Athens Declaration and important initiatives for education and culture.

Turkish aggression was the focus of the meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister Sergey Lavrov that took place in Maximos Mansion. Premier Mitsotakis reiterated that Greece is on the side of International Law, as evidenced by the agreements on the Exclusive Economic Zones with Egypt and Italy. Addressing Minister Lavrov, he said he wanted to brief him on Turkey’s actions, which violate International Law and undermine peace in many sensitive points of the map.

For his part, Minister Lavrov stressed the need to de-escalate tensions in the region as soon as possible through a direct dialogue between the two sides and said that Moscow was ready to help normalise the situation.

Main opposition Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras also met with visiting Russian Foreign Minister at the historic building of the Russian Embassy in downtown Athens. During the meeting, the two interlocutors also discussed developments in the wider region, with emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean. Alexis Tsipras stressed the importance of terminating the Turkish aggression in order to advance the investigations and the resumption of talks for a fair and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN Resolutions with the withdrawal of the occupying forces and the abolition of guarantees.

 

Pictured above: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis receives visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov; the two delegations in conference with Premier Mitsotakis, headed by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Minister Sergey Lavrov; the two Foreign Ministers sign a Joint Memorandum; the two Foreign Ministers give joint statements to the press; the two delegations in conference at the Foreign Ministry; Minister Lavrov receives main opposition party Syriza-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras.

 

(Photographs: G.Kontarinis/Eurokinissi, H.Akriviadis/MoFA & Syriza.)

Albanian leadership receives visiting Greek Foreign Minister

Strengthening cooperation in the interest of both peoples

 

Greece and Albania recently decided to refer their maritime zones issue to the International Court at The Hague, during a meeting between and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

“Having examined the issue thoroughly, we agreed that Greece and Albania would jointly take recourse to international justice, the International Court at The Hague, on the issue,” Minister Dendias said following a meeting with Premier Rama. “This agreement is based on the consistent adherence by both countries to international legality and the principle of resolving differences peacefully,” he added. The Greek Foreign Minister noted that the two countries “also referred to the Greece-Albania agreement of 1996 and we agreed that this treaty requires deepening and strengthening. We decided to proceed jointly to a new strategic collaboration agreement between the two countries and to set up a G2G meeting and mechanism between the two friendly countries.”

The two officials also discussed the issue of an outstanding state of war, on paper, which Minister Dendias called “an anachronism” and said would be resolved. They also discussed the issue of minorities and the spirit that should underpin good neighbourhood relations. The accession of Albania to the European Union is a joint goal of both countries he underlined, noting Greece’s consistent support of accession for West Balkan countries.

Turkey, on the other hand, Minister Dendias said “is moving in the opposite direction… continuing to violate fundamental EU accession criteria – both political and economic – on a daily basis.”

Minister Dendias was in Tirana for a series of meetings with Albania’s State and political authorities. Following his meeting with Premier Rama, he also met separately with acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj, President of Albania Ilir Meta, the Presidents of the Democratic Party and the Unity for Human Rights Party, Lulzim Basha and Vangjel Dule, respectively, with Greek entrepreneurs who are active in Albania, as well as with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios.

“Albanian-Greek relations are among the main priorities of our foreign policy and these relations must continue to develop in the spirit of good neighbourliness, linked to strategic interests, close cooperation in NATO, a common European perspective and the two countries’ economic interests,” Albanian President Ilir Meta stated during his reception of the visiting Greek Foreign Minister.

The President expressed his gratitude for the continued support of Greece in the European perspective of Albania, as a national and strategic goal. In addition, he assessed that the Greek minority in Albania represents a strong bridge for the two States’ long-term friendship and, together with the Albanians living in Greece, constitute the foundations of healthy and long-term relations between them. President Meta also voiced his gratitude for the solidarity and support Greece exhibited in the aftermath of the November 2019 earthquake, as well as for cooperation with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regarding the issue of the demarcation of the maritime space between the two countries, the President of the Republic stressed that he has and will continue to encourage the resolution of the issue through honest dialogue and mutual respect, aiming at a permanent and lasting solution.

In summary, this successful visit of the Head of the Greek Diplomacy and consequently the  EEZ agreement, enables Greece again to show itself as a country that is capable of settling outstanding disputes with its neighbours on the basis of International Law. Furthermore, the approach on such a crucial issue could and should “unlock” Greek-Albanian relations, creating a favourable climate for Tirana and Athens to press the restart button in the interest of both peoples.

 

Photographs above: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pictured during his meetings in Tirana with – President of Albania Ilir Meta; Prime Minister Edi Rama; and acting Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gent Cakaj.

(Photographs: H.Akriviadis/MoFA.)

Interview with H.E. the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, Shorsh Khalid Said

 

 

 

Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth.

Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

 

GDL: What is Iraq’s role as a critical global partner and a stabilising force in the Middle East? What are the main aspects of your foreign policy?

SKS: Iraq has inherited a heavy legacy of hostility and distrust as a result of the policies of the previous regime. Since 2003, the political system has faced many challenges in an effort to restore Iraq to a position worthy of its rich cultural heritage, its honourable people and its abundant wealth. Iraq in the new era is an advocate of constructive dialogue, has the confidence to become a key player and stability actor in the region and is determined to be involved in the international community as a credible interlocutor, a fair and honest partner.

We were able to put an end to the isolation imposed on Iraq, and today Iraq enjoys a large and strong network of relations with its neighbouring and regional countries, as well as with the European Union and the countries of the world. We have strong relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America, and in many cases we played a positive role for the convergence of views between the two parties, as well as between some Arab Gulf States and Iran, as Iraq refuses to enter into alliances or blocs against any country.

In addition, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed by Iraq and the European Union constitutes a long-term agreement that establishes a legal framework for cooperation between Iraq and the EU in areas of common interest, such as democracy, human rights, economic and commercial affairs, immigration, security, energy and the environment, to name a few.

Iraq today also maintains distinguished relations with the Russian Federation and China and has become a key partner of the international coalition to fight terrorism; as the great sacrifices Iraq made to eliminate the so-called Caliphate and ensure stability in the region are widely acknowledged.

All in all, Iraq’s foreign policy is based on the value of peace and aims at normalising its diplomatic relations with the international community on the basis of cooperation, respect of mutual interests and in accordance with International Law, adopting the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, and in turn, not allowing any country to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq.

GDL: How concerned is Iraq with the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East?

SKS: Of course, Iraq is concerned about any deterioration occurring, whether it is in the Middle East or in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it can have a negative impact on the whole region as far as security, humanitarian, economic and political matters are concerned.

We have all witnessed how the deterioration of the situation in Syria has reflected on the security and economic situation in Iraq, due to the crossing of thousands of terrorists into our country through the Syrian territory, in addition to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. As a matter of fact, as a result of the events in the region, more than a million refugees sought refuge in Europe, not to mention the great human losses and the humanitarian repercussions and destruction.

We are also monitoring events in the Eastern Mediterranean and we hope that Turkey, Greece and Cyprus will resolve their differences through diplomacy, in accordance with international laws and the Law of the Sea. We see that the EU is working with a positive approach to resolve these issues. The Eastern Mediterranean is a distinct and very important geographical region, as it mediates between East and West and any deterioration of the situation, God forbid, would be a disaster affecting everyone.

 

“The new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs.

Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account.”

 

GDL: Iraq is experiencing violations of its territorial integrity and threats to its political unity and sovereignty? How do you cope with this alarming situation?

SKS: After the great change in the political system since 2003, we were able to reduce the problems with neighbouring countries, especially with the brotherly State of Kuwait and the friendly Islamic Republic of Iran. As I mentioned earlier, the new approach to foreign policy in Iraq is to resolve differences through dialogue and non-interference in internal affairs. Our neighbours are our destiny and we are working in order for the differences and destruction to turn into prosperity and economic stability in an environment where the interests of all parties are taken into account. Iraq is the gateway for European and Turkish trade to the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region and we seek to strengthen and develop trade relations with friends in Turkey, as the volume of bilateral trade exchange amounts to more than 10 billion US dollars annually.

However, there is a growing concern about the interference of neighbouring Turkey in Iraq and its repeated bombing of our lands, which leads to great losses in civilians’ lives and destruction of large areas of agricultural land and property of citizens, displacing large numbers of them. We also reject the occupation of parts of our lands by the Turkish forces in Bashiqa and areas of Dohuk Governorate, as Turkey has established 37 checkpoints within the Iraqi borders without any prior coordination with the Iraqi Government. We affirm that these attacks are a violation of international principles of good neighbourliness and conventions on relations between States. Turkey is using illogical justifications for its military operations, as the increase in the presence of PKK, which in reality came as a result of a peace agreement concluded between the Turkish Government and the aforementioned organisation in 2013. At the time of this agreement, Iraq protested about it strongly to the Security Council. This concerns an internal Turkish problem that Turkey exported to Iraq, using it as a pretext for intervention and attacks. We reaffirm that Iraq refuses to use its territory as an arena for aggressions against any neighbouring country, for security threats or international conflicts, as stipulated in the Iraqi Constitution, and we call upon Turkey to respect that.

GDL: In democratic states, the foundations of national policy are the respect of International Law and the Principle of Good Neighbourly Relations. Unfortunately certain countries insist on provocation, illicit rhetoric and gunboat diplomacy. How can anyone engage in dialogue with a neighbour under a climate of distrust and lack of credibility? What is Iraq’s position?

SKS: Iraq’s views are based on the principles of ending tensions, promoting dialogue and respecting International Law and Sovereignty of States as the means to achieve peace. International law should be respected by all and at all times. You do not pick and choose when to adhere to International law.

Starting a war is very easy, but putting an end to it is the difficult part, while its cost in material and moral terms is very high. We, in Iraq, with great regret, have witnessed several wars and its concurring tragedies in recent history. We know that achieving peace and political harmony can sometimes be very difficult and requests the largest amount of endurance and patience. As the renowned author Anaȉs Nin has put it: “Peace is like a war, a battle that has armies and crowds, plans, goals and self-confidence is a battle against all the complications of defeat”.

GDL: What are the regional challenges that Iraq faces now and how would you describe your relations with Iran and Syria?

SKS: Iraq, thanks to its geostrategic position, has become since ancient times a river, land and sea crossing between continents. There is no doubt that the challenges for Iraq increased with the exacerbation of conflicts, bringing instability, due to the contradictory interests of the major countries in the region, which have also led to external interventions. Our goal is to prevent Iraq from becoming an arena for these conflicts, just like it happened in the case of terrorism that spilled over and posed a great challenge for Iraq and for the whole world. Therefore, we work with the international coalition and other parties to prevent allowing any room for the re-emergence of terrorist elements, whatever their name, scope or origin.

That said, Iraq maintains good relations with neighbouring Syria. We have diplomatic representation. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, our position was clear; against any military intervention. We emphasised the need to respect the choice of the Syrian people by establishing a democratic political settlement in Syria and not interfering in its internal affairs. Certainly, we are concerned about the situation in Syria, as it has a direct impact on Iraq. There are thousands of terrorists who entered Iraq from Syria. Therefore, we support the stability of the situation in Syria and the solution of the problems through political dialogue so that the refugees can return to their areas and turn from the page of destruction to the reconstruction chapter.

Concerning our relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran they can be characterised as strong. Our borders extend to more than 1,000 miles. The bilateral trade exchange amounts to approximately 12 billion dollars annually and there are also social, cultural and religious ties that connect us. For the record, we should note that Iran was at the forefront of the countries that helped Iraq after Daesh terrorist groups took control over large areas in Iraq.

GDL: The recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister and the Deputy Minister to Baghdad revealed the interest of Greek investment in the reconstruction plan in Iraq and the potential of bilateral cooperation in many fields. What are the favourite sectors that both sides should focus upon?

SKS: The recent visit of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kostas Fragogiannis, to Baghdad indeed highlighted the interest for Greek investments in the reconstruction plan of Iraq, but also the interest of Baghdad for benefiting from the Greek experience in the field of renewable energy sources, as well as in the field of restoration of archaeological sites and the archiving of all Iraqi antiquities. Daesh terrorist groups destroyed the largest museum in Mosul, and this is another field in which the Greek know-how is important to us. Issues relating to maritime transport and more specifically shipbuilding and port construction, as well as other projects within the framework of cooperation for the reconstruction of Iraq, were also discussed such as the construction of cities, city street planning, to name but a few.

Three Memorandums of Understanding were signed during this visit. One concerned the political consultations between the two countries; the second was about the cooperation of the Greek diplomatic academy with Iraq and the third, and extremely important, concerns the encouragement of investments between the two countries. There were plans for signing more memorandums, relating to health, agricultural policy, transportation, however, the acceleration of the visit did not allow enough time for their preparation.

It is important to note that our trade exchange has grown to more than 4.5 billion euros, as in 2019 Iraq ranked as the third most important exporter to Greece, on an international scale, bringing it to the first place of trade partners to Greece amongst all Arab countries.

Greek companies have proved to be a key partner to Iraq, especially when it comes to health, manufacturing and construction. Defeating terrorism has brought a number of new business development opportunities in Iraq, placing the reconstruction of the country in the centre of it all. As Greeks enter the Iraqi market of course there will be an increasing interest for partnerships on the Iraqi side to enter the Greek market. I am confident that Iraqi businesses would be eager to invest in Greece following a combined effort to facilitate the obtainment of visas and advertise and promote the opportunities of investment.

 

“It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.”

 

GDL: Your Excellency, how can Greece promote Iraq-EU relations, particularly support towards the consolidation of security?

SKS: It is very encouraging that the current Greek Government has placed particular importance toward the Arab world and the Middle East in general. And we see that the visits of Greek officials to Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries take place on a weekly or monthly basis. We encourage these relations because they are very important for both Greece and the EU. Greece can play a big, important role for the Arab countries, and Iraq of course, in both the EU and the UN.

Iraq on its part has achieved, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of its great people and support of its friends, to liberate its entire territory from Daesh terrorist groups and successfully restore security and stability on its grounds. I strongly believe this new environment constitutes a great opportunity for European companies to acquire a large share of the reconstruction of cities which were destroyed by Daesh terrorist groups and also of the reconstruction of infrastructure in other Iraqi provinces. Iraq is ranked 33rd when it comes to the 2019 volume of trade exchange with the European Union and needless to say that the Iraqi Government is engaged in providing the appropriate conditions and necessary facilities to European companies through regulations and laws that support the European investor.

Indeed, financial advancement can help consolidate a new political culture, based on confidence in democratic governance, which can in turn establish an environment of unity and consolidation of security.

GDL: For some time, security breaches have strained Iraqi-US relations. What needs to be done and do you foresee a change in US policy toward Iraq under the new US Administration?

SKS: We appreciate and thank all the countries that have supported Iraq in the war against terrorism, especially the United States of America. We do have strong relations with the USA, which were further enhanced since 2008 through the Strategic Framework Agreement, an important political, economic and security agreement that organises the temporary presence of the US military forces, as well as their withdrawal from Iraq.

What happened a few weeks ago was a shooting by outlaws at areas near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The Government and most of the parties in the Iraqi Parliament condemned this act and the Government made great efforts to halt such attacks, and indeed they have stopped.

President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi extended congratulations to the President elect Joe Biden, whose relationship with the Iraqi leadership is old and strong. Actually, before Mr. Biden took office as Vice President in the Obama Administration, he had visited Iraq several times. I do not think there will be major changes in the US policy concerning Iraq, but we look forward to strengthening the strategic relations between our countries towards a future based on mutual respect and close cooperation to overcome any challenges ahead, support peace and security and ultimately achieve prosperity.

GDL: The Islamic State (ISIS) is quietly rising from the ashes in parts of Iraq and Syria. Is this resilience due to the lack of State’s indecisiveness or because of the assistance shown to it by its network of affiliates and allies? How can the international community eradicate this unjustifiable terrorist organisation?

SKS: This terrorist organisation several years ago was controlling large areas in Iraq and other countries and declared the Caliphate, but thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the children of Iraqis and with the help of the international coalition and other countries we were able to eliminate this terrorist organisation and destroy this imaginary Caliphate. Now this terrorist organisation has been weakened, leaving it unable to launch large attacks or control areas in Iraq.

However, there are some small cells that appear here and there that are quickly eliminated, while some cells are also found in some European countries and in Africa. Terrorism is a problem for everyone. Therefore, we must continue to cooperate and work together to exchange security information about their movements and activities and to dry up their financial resources.

The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance. We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.

GDL: What initiatives has the Iraqi Government undertaken to bring back to their origin displayed populations?

SKS: The post-conflict period allowed for the return of over 4.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas of origin. However, there are challenges in areas of displacement and in areas of return that still need to be addressed. According to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and Return Index, the lack of job opportunities, lack of services and shelter are the three key factors hindering return.

The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement is determined to develop a plan in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning to facilitate the return of the displaced persons to their homes and their smooth reintegration. The UN also has a great role when it comes to the coordination for the return of the IDPs, as well as the humanitarian organisations in Mosul, and we call on countries around the world to stand with this issue. We should note, however, that according to PAX NGO, in 2020 nearly 50,000 acres of land were burned due to Turkish military campaigns taking place in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, causing civilian casualties and deaths, displacement of thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and damaging fragile ecosystems.

 

“The problem of terrorism is not solved only by means of weapons, but we must look into the reasons of its emergence and in response consolidate the values of tolerance, coexistence, moderation, pluralism and acceptance, rejecting discrimination, hate and intolerance.

We must begin by instilling these principles in our families first and foremost.”

 

GDL: Iraqi-Greek civilizations are among the most ancient civilizations in the world with both countries relations categorised as longstanding and important. What is the pace of current relations and, in your opinion, how can they be enhanced?

SKS: The historical ties of Iraq and Greece go a long way back. Our shared cultures and values constitute a living guarantee for our excellent cooperation for years to come. And even in troubled times, when faced with terrorism and financial challenges, the bilateral relations between Greece and Iraq have been growing stronger thanks to the drive and willingness of both countries.

Greece has supported Iraq through the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh terrorist groups, through the EU and NATO, has provided support to the Iraqi Armed Forces in the field of training and has also received an important number of Iraqi immigrants. During the recent visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Iraq we thanked Greece for its treatment and support provided to the Iraqis living in the country, despite the financial difficulties. It should be noted, however, that the number of immigrants from Iraq to Greece has decreased after the improvement of security in the country and the victory over Daesh.

Iraq and Greece also cooperate and support each other in all international organisations. Iraq already participates in the 3+1 framework of cooperation of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan and is also part of the Ancient Civilisations Forum, a Greek initiative. As a matter of fact, Iraq, Ancient Mesopotamia, is not only the cradle of great and ancient civilisations, but also is a country where the catastrophic contemporary barbarity against monuments of civilisation has been manifested. Both Iraq and Greece have a rich and very old cultural heritage; and we cherish that in our cooperation. Greece’s democratic history, proven know-how concerning tourism, academia, RES and agriculture, are an unparallel match to the focus Iraq places on education, democratic institutions, energy alternatives and growing tourism.

GDL: Mr. Ambassador, you have been posted as the Iraqi Envoy to Greece since January 2019, how have you found diplomatic life in Athens, and what do you foresee changing, if anything, for the future of the diplomacy sector under the light of social restrictions?

SKS: Let me take this opportunity to say that I am honoured to have been working in Greece as an Ambassador. Greece is widely known for its cultural heritage and rich history. But apart from this, I witnessed first-hand the hospitality of your country and I must say I have great admiration for the peaceful and tasteful Greek people. Greece is indeed a beautiful country, full of potentials and diplomatic activity.

However, like many sectors of public and private life, diplomacy has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Most importantly, the Covid-19 crisis has shown us that the world needs to cooperate and increase the budget allocated to health, in comparison to other sectors, not only to overcome the current pandemic, but also in order to be prepared for any other similar crisis in the future.

During the pandemic, diplomacy moved to new work settings, such as online conversations and teleconferences. Our experience has the potential to lead to more effective diplomacy. The first and most obvious working change, in times of the pandemic, relates to time management, as a direct consequence of cancelled travel. But most importantly, we should grab this opportunity to benefit from the use of digital technologies in all aspects of work life.

The changes we witness now will in all probability have an ongoing impact in a way that post-pandemic planning for Foreign Ministries can bring transformational change to diplomacy and global governance.

 

Interview by Nicolas Boutsikos
Editor, Greek Diplomatic Life

Visit of the US Secretary of State; deepening strategic partnership

 

The Greek and US delegations in conference presided over by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greece and the United States reaffirmed their excellent bilateral relations and mutual desire to further deepen cooperation in a series of areas, from defence and security to investment and energy and to education and culture, as well as the developments in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, according to a joint statement released after the meeting of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo, which took place in Thessaloniki at the end of September. The two sides conducted a high-level review of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue, ahead of the third Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington in 2021.

During his visit to Thessaloniki, the US Secretary of State also participated in a round table discussion on energy, in the presence of Environment and Energy Minister Costis Hatzidakis, followed by the signing of an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation between Greece and the USA, in the presence of Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis.

After Thessaloniki, the US Secretary of State travelled to Crete, where he visited the Souda Naval Base to underline the strong US security partnership with Greece.

The visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the second visit in just one year, reflects the key role that Thessaloniki plays as a growth centre for the Balkans and the role that Souda plays for geostrategic planning in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Secretary Pompeo’s visit highlights the renewed strategic relationship and the special weight of Greece as a factor of stability and security in the wider region.

On the occasion of this high-level review, they confirmed their mutual desire to deepen cooperation, in particular in the areas described below.

Secretary Pompeo pictured in discussion with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

 

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Greece shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with International Law.  In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with International Law.  The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal to safeguard stability and security in the wider region.

The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors within the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region. The United States and Greece reiterated their support for the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions according to the choice of their citizens. They highlighted Greece’s efforts to this end, noting the continued relevance of the Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO, while underscoring the importance of its consistent implementation in good faith.

 

Defence and Security

Greece and the United States expressed their intent to further enhance their strategic defence and security partnership by expanding and deepening the US-Greece Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement, which was last updated in October 2019 and greatly contributes to the security of both nations. In the coming Strategic Dialogue, both sides intend to discuss how to further assist each other in maintaining strong, capable and interoperable militaries.

 

Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism

The United States and Greece took note of their security cooperation based upon a shared interest in protecting the safety and security of both nations from terrorists, transnational criminal organisations and other threat actors. Despite the global pandemic, outstanding US-Greece law enforcement cooperation on arrests, seizures and extraditions has continued unabated. Moreover, the two countries took stock of continued improvement in border security and counterterrorism information sharing and collaboration according to international standards. They committed to full implementation of the 2016 Joint Statement on Greece’s participation in the Visa Waiver Programme, including beginning issuance of an updated national identification card and fully collecting and analysing air passenger data.

 

Trade and Investment

Secretary Pompeo and Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis celebrate the signing of an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation.The United States and Greece look forward to enhancing trade and investment between their two countries. The two Governments noted that Greece substantially improved its protection and enforcement of intellectual property in 2019, which resulted in Greece’s removal from the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report this year.

The United States and Greece welcomed the inauguration of new investments and acquisitions by US companies in Greece and reaffirmed their commitment to encourage that trend. The two Governments look forward to increasing cooperation on trade. The United States and Greece attach great importance on the cooperation on artificial intelligence, cyber security, 5G and privatisation of strategic infrastructure.

The two countries remain committed to enhancing the capacity of women to prosper in the workforce, succeed as entrepreneurs and be better positioned to foster economic growth.

 

Energy

The United States and Greece welcomed the completion of the Greek section of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and looked forward to discussing at the coming Strategic Dialogue their mutual support for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, the floating storage regasification unit project at Alexandroupoli, the privatisation of the Kavala underground gas storage, the Interconnection Greece – North Macedonia project and other commercially viable projects, which could include the EastMed Gas Pipeline.

Both sides welcomed the September 22nd formal establishment of the EastMed Gas Forum as a regional organisation and the on-going successful cooperation on energy through the 3+1 process.  Greece and the United States underlined the participation of ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum in offshore exploration blocks off the coast of Crete, as well the potential opportunities for US investment in the renewable energy sector, with the recently ratified Greek Law ‘Modernisation of Environmental Legislation’.

 

People-to-People Ties

The United States and Greece reaffirmed the centrality of people-to-people ties in their bilateral relations. They look forward to marking Greece’s independence bicentennial in 2021, as well as exchanging exhibitions and cooperation between museums. The United States and Greece reaffirmed their intent to strengthen links between US and Greek universities and create new joint, dual-degree and study abroad programmes.

Both countries will continue to support on-going educational and academic exchanges, including the Fulbright Programme in Greece, which marked its 72nd Anniversary in 2020. The United States and Greece agreed to continue their longstanding cooperation to protect Greece’s cultural property. Both countries also agreed to cooperate on capacity building within the creative industries, including in the film sector.

The United States and Greece also agreed to explore public-private partnerships in culture and technology.

 

Premier meets with the US Secretary in Crete

The official arrival of the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Crete.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hailed the talks conducted with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the island of Crete, which he described as successful. He also expressed his satisfaction that Secretary Pompeo was a guest in Chania, where the Prime Minister originates, and noted that on the island of Crete “beats not just the heart of Greece and the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean. There also beats the strong pulse of Greek-US cooperation. It is no accident that we are speaking from the 115 Battle Wing of our Air Force.”

“Souda is emerging as the most strategic location of the wider region. Here, the interests of our two countries meet, along with those of security and peace,” the Prime Minister added, stressing the special importance of this visit which, as he said, “strengthens our national line ahead of the European Union summit.”

He also sent a message of unity, pointing out that “such moments we must all be united and responsible, because if we have a positive outcome in national issues, it is not the government that wins, it is Greece.”

“A visit by the US Secretary of State to our country – even more so when it is the second within 12 months – is a political event, but especially given the time it took place, its agenda and the overall climate, I think it was very important. It produces results on many levels, it has a large national scope and I think that Greece, as a whole, has every reason to be satisfied with this visit,” he said and added:

“I think that the positive footprint for our country is proven by the irritation it caused on the other side.”

The Prime Minister also referred to Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Thessaloniki, stressing that “bilateral cooperation in many areas was discussed. In the discussions we had in Crete, security issues obviously dominated. It was agreed that unilateral actions in the Mediterranean should be avoided, as well as that all members have the obligation to respect International Law.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pictured at the Souda base in Crete during which time they state that relations between the two countries have never been as close and productive as they are today, with the Premier adding that “Souda is emerging as the most strategic location of the wider region. Here, the interests of our two countries meet, along with those of security and peace.”

 

Regarding defence issues, he said “that the presence of the most modern ship of the American fleet, the USS Hershel Williams in Souda, says a lot about the future of our defence cooperation.”

“The upgraded agreement for mutual defence cooperation between Greece and the USA extends its action to the area of our joint defence industry, with its spearhead being th