Tuesday , July 23 2024

Foreign Minister of the Philippines is given a warm welcome to Athens

 

 

Maritime tradition unites Greece and the Philippines

 

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister George Gerapetritis and his visiting counterpart from the Philippines, Enrique A. Manalo, referred to the ties of friendship and common values linking Greece and the Philippines during their meeting in Athens on June 20th. Within the context of his visit to Athens, Minister Manalo also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Defence Minister Nikos Dendias (below).

The strong bilateral ties, people-to-people exchanges, trade and investment, labour and maritime cooperation and the strong support for common positions on many issues, particularly upholding rules-based global order and International Law, including UNCLOS, were discussed.

After extended talks, Minister Gerapetritis said that it was the first visit of a Filipino Foreign Minister to Greece since the start of diplomatic relations 74 years ago. Citing one of the shared values of the two countries, he noted, “we support an international order based on principles and rules – the respect of International Law, particularly the undivided support of the International Law of the Sea, the peaceful resolution of differences, the prosperity of peoples.”

He also spoke of the great room for improvement in bilateral relations and in the decision to activate the political consultation process between the two Foreign Ministries. “Additionally maritime tradition unites the two countries. The sea and shipping are integral to the identity of the Greeks, due to our geographical location and physiography, as well as our extensive coastline of more than 20,000 kilometres with hundreds of islands and islets, as is the case with the friendly country of the Philippines”, the Greek Minister said, noting that “50 Greek shipping companies are active in Manila, while 53,000 Filipino nationals and seamen offer their technical know-how on Greek-owned ships because of their high maritime skills.”

The Greek Head of Diplomacy added that Greece places great importance on maritime security and the safety of seagoing crews and he thanked the Philippines for supporting Greece’s election as a non-permanent Member of the UN Security Council. Greece itself supports EU-Philippines relations and their promotion, “while we hope for a positive outcome in negotiations for a free exchange agreement between the two countries.” In addition, “Greece also looks forward to the deepening of EU-ASEAN relations and can serve as an economic and trade gate of ASEAN countries in the EU,” he said.

Minister Manalo said his discussion with Minister Gerapetritis was very productive, whilst expressing the confidence that the meeting will serve as a starting point for several programmes and projects to start immediately, referring to the protection of the environment, tourism, managing maritime pollution, climate change and seafaring crews’ protection. The consultations they both decided on will provide a foundation for the promotion of partnerships in specific projects, Minister Manalo added.

“We also place great importance on maritime cooperation, given the significant contribution of our maritime sectors to our economies. Greece has the world’s largest shipping fleet, while the Philippines deploys a quarter of the world’s seafarers,” he said. He further noted that the Philippines recognises the importance of maintaining ocean health and sustainability, which requires responsible ocean governance anchored on the twin pillars of International Law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and international cooperation. “Rules must remain in place and States must faithfully implement them,” he stressed.

The Filipino Head of Diplomacy also gave a speech at the leading think-tank ELIAMEP and shared views on maritime issues and maritime law, the SCS/WPS, as well as the commitment to a Rules Based International Order and UNCLOS.

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