HomeGreeceMinister of Foreign Affairs N. Dendias’ online address at the Conference “The...

Minister of Foreign Affairs N. Dendias’ online address at the Conference “The Future of Europe” themed “Europe in the World: Foreign, Security and Defence policy–Energy–Enlargement–EU and the Southeastern Mediterranean Neighbourhood” (Nicosia,19.02.2022)

 Minister of Foreign Affairs N. Dendias’ online address at the Conference “The Future of Europe” themed “Europe in the World: Foreign, Security and Defence policy–Energy–Enlargement–EU and the Southeastern Mediterranean Neighbourhood” (Nicosia,19.02.2022)Dear participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I join you, albeit online, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Minister of the Mitsotakis Government, in this particularly interesting event on the Future of Europe. An event related to the common European future of Greece and Cyprus.

And you will allow me to say that initiatives such as today’s honour the memory of the great advocate of Europeanist, Glafcos Clerides.

I must point out that Glafcos Clerides was one of the pioneers of the European course of the Republic of Cyprus, together with other prominent personalities of the Cypriot and Greek Hellenism, such as Giorgos Vasiliou and Giannos Kranidiotis.

During the Presidency of Glafcos Clerides, negotiations for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union began and were completed.

I cannot fail to mention my dear colleague, the previous speaker, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, whom I would like to thank warmly for the invitation to address the Conference today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The accession of Cyprus to the European project, as well as the accession of Greece decades ago, constituted the achievement of a major strategic objective of Hellenism.

When the late Konstantinos Karamanlis applied for Greece’s membership in the then European Economic Community, he did not merely aim at joining a common market. It was a particularly important political undertaking to integrate Greece into a system of shared values.

And this project of creating an area of shared values is still evolving, it has not been completed.

However, despite its many problems – its multitude of problems – it is a unique endeavour in the history of mankind. Perhaps, I dare say, the most ambitious endeavour.

A key element of this effort is the consolidation of a Common Foreign Policy, as well as the establishment of a Security and Defence Policy.

I never fail to mention Article 42.7 of the Treaty on European Union.

These policies are based on shared values, starting with respect for International Law. Respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of states; the prohibition of the threat of use of force or the use of force in international relations. And of course, respect for human rights.

And I always say that it may not be widely known, but the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the well-known UNCLOS, is an integral part of the European Acquis. It has been signed by the European Union itself as an entity, together with 167 other parties, that is, a total of 168 parties.

It is these principles of International Law that both Greece and Cyprus advocate in the Eastern Mediterranean. And our common goal is for them to become the property of all states, all peoples of the region; and to enshrine them in a credible and realistic way, reflecting the true situation, in the Common Strategic Compass which we are debating in the European Union.

And I would like to tell you that I firmly believe that the settlement of all problems in our wider region is feasible, it is possible. But in order to achieve this, we all need to embrace shared values, common rules.

There is no issue, no dispute that cannot be resolved, as long as all parties striving for a settlement have a common starting point, a common framework of rules and reference.

After all, in this context, Greece and Cyprus have resolved bilateral issues, such as the delimitation of maritime zones with several of our neighbours.

At the same time, they promote multilateral cooperation with other countries, which accept this common framework of reference.

I am sorry to say that a country in the region stubbornly refuses to embrace these values.

Turkey is pursuing a completely different divergent agenda, a neo-Ottoman agenda. It tries to turn the wider area into a zone of influence.

Unfortunately, Turkey, with these actions, is distancing itself from Europe, not in the geographical sense, but from Europe as a set of principles and values, and its accession process, which Greece has courageously supported, has virtually stalled.

And I want to point out that this is not a desired situation for us.

It is my firm belief that a very large part of Turkish society is looking forward to a European future. It looks forward to aligning with the values of the European Union, the rule of law, human rights, women’s rights. This will be for the benefit of Turkish society, for the benefit of all societies and states in the region.

And within this framework of values, I reiterate my absolute conviction that our dispute with Turkey can be resolved.

Of course, I do not lack realism. I do not see this perspective at present. Unfortunately, the opposite is probably the case.

But I insist that the consolidation of basic principles, such as respect for International Law and International Law of the Sea, is the only path, the only way forward for the states of the Eastern Mediterranean region.

With this vision, with this perception of values, both Greece and the Republic of Cyprus will continue to participate in the European Union.

Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that significant progress has been made since the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit and the EU-NATO Joint Declarations, which will now be able to bear fruit, given what Mr. Alli said about Putin having performed miracles uniting us. It would be very interesting to hear your opinion.

N.DENDIAS: I would like to be honest, I have always been advocating for optimism, out of conviction. Returning from Moscow yesterday, I brought with me the explicit statement of my colleague, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, that Russia is not going to invade Ukraine.

And I think I would like to keep this straightforward position of the Russian side, because anything that constitutes a different approach would create a huge mess. As Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis so aptly put it, we will all lose.

I cannot imagine that in the 21st century a large country like Russia – which should objectively be part of the European Security Architecture and not merely because its territory extends to the Urals – I cannot believe that it will react this way.

I therefore retain the firm conviction that the united front of the NATO Allies, but also of many other countries, which are advocates of International Law, territorial integrity and independence of states, will exercise – precisely through this unity which has now become evident – the persuasion required on the Russian side so that if the latter thought of doing such a thing, to refrain from doing it.

Allow me to conclude, after thanking you for the opportunity, by making another brief remark regarding the position of the previous speaker. What he says about Africa and India is extremely interesting. Greek foreign policy has clearly experienced this boost, I have already visited six countries, if I remember correctly, of the African continent in recent months, I am travelling again to Africa on Tuesday after Paris to visit two more countries. I will also be visiting India in early March, following at least three meetings with the outstanding Indian Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar.

A new world of challenges is opening up and Hellenism cannot remain aloof and keep limiting itself to a stereotype, which has kept us focused only on the problems of our region in recent years.

Thank you again for the great opportunity. I wish you every success and I hope to meet Mr. Kasoulides in Brussels on Monday.

Thank you very much.


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