HomeGreeceMinister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ speech at the event themed “Greece...

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ speech at the event themed “Greece in the maelstrom of international developments” organised by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) in the framework of the new ‘NKUA Days’ event series (Ath

Secondly, we have made strengthening our relations with the United States an absolute priority for us. I think Greek society is starting to see the benefits, particularly in terms of support for our positions on fundamentally important issues, both from the US executive branch, regardless of party, and from the US legislative branch – I reiterate – regardless of party. There is no measure, ladies and gentlemen, by which to compare our relations with the United States today with those of the past, not even with those of about twenty years ago, when maintaining the balance was the key priority on the superpower side.
Thirdly, the third circle, a zone of security and stability that we are pursuing in the wider region of the Middle East, the Gulf region and North Africa. We have developed with Egypt the closest relations we have ever had. The Greek-Egyptian Agreement is a monumental evidence of this relationship, but the relationship is not limited to that, it goes much deeper. In addition to that, we have developed our relations with the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, most of the countries in the region. At the same time, we are now present in the developments in Libya and Syria. Together with Cyprus, we have strengthened, as much as we can, the multilateral schemes of regional cooperation, culminating in the 3+1 format: Cyprus, Greece, Israel, the “plus 1” being the United States. Our ambition is to make the numerically obvious “3+1” a “4”. In every case we prioritize the peaceful resolution of disputes on the basis of International Law.
I would like to recall what most of us, at various ages, have witnessed our country’s agonizing struggle to maintain the 7 to 10 ratio in military aid in the first years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. And to kindly ask you to make the comparison with the present era, when Greece has access to any US weapons system, including the F-35 fighter aircraft, and Turkey is merely trying to secure the upgrade of the F-16 fighter aircraft.
The latest dramatic event, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, not only affects the whole planet, but, if I may say so, has changed the world. And alongside this there is the attempt by forces of revisionism seeking to create a different reality by violating the principles of International Law. A further creeping threat looms over the world following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am referring to the food crisis affecting countries in our region, but also countries far away. And it comes on top of the energy crisis, which is already threatening economies and societies. However, we should not underestimate the threat of the food crisis, especially when also taking into account a less well-known factor, namely the crisis in the fertiliser exports. They can both have devastating consequences for societies all over the world, resulting in social upheavals and migratory flows. We all, probably, watched the latest events in Sri Lanka on our television screens.
Many of you may remember the classic English expression during the bombing of London in World War II: “Keep calm and carry on”.
This is what we are doing, while at the same time remaining committed to the principles and values that have guided our foreign policy over time: respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states; respect for International Law and the International Law of the Sea. And also, let us not forget, International Humanitarian Law. This is our compass as we navigate our way on the international stage.
Additionally, if one looks at the results of opinion surveys conducted inside Turkey, one will notice yet another, even worse finding: that, unfortunately, the escalation of this rhetoric is consolidating an anti-Greek sentiment in Turkish society. If you had seen an opinion survey of Turkish society conducted four years ago, you would have noticed that Greece was not perceived as a threat by Turkish citizens. Currently, instead, it is perceived as such, and in fact it scores high on the relevant index. As a result, a trend of anti-Greek sentiment tends to be established within Turkish society that may eventually become dominant.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit Odessa. I met with members of the Greek Community there, as well as Greeks from Mariupol who fled to Odessa to escape the tragic consequences of the Russian invasion. Tomorrow, I will travel to The Hague to participate in a special event, together with other European countries, on war crimes committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am bringing this up to remind you that Humanitarian Law is an element of our long-standing political strategy.
You will allow me to conclude by saying that out of the grim reality of 2022 for the global community, young Greeks can envisage a better time coming. But to achieve this, the country will have to put in a lot of effort, but only along the same axes that have gotten it to this point: respect for International Law, for the International Law of the Sea, for our fellow human beings, for the global community.
Firstly, we are strengthening our bilateral relations with our family, our European partners, relations that have been somewhat neglected. The Greek state, under pressure from the severe economic crisis, thought that the Council of Ministers or the European Council was sufficient to maintain a high level of relations with our European partners. This was not true; relations at bilateral level are equally important and necessary. In addition, bilateral contacts are needed to establish the required understanding of our positions in the EU member countries as well.
The issue that we, a European country on the edge of Europe, are called upon to address is therefore what our response should be.
These three countries are on the schedule of my visits in August and September.
Sixth, the sixth circle: the continent with the fastest economic and population growth on the planet, Africa. In recent months I have visited seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and if it had not been for the invasion of Ukraine I would have completed the round of visits to fourteen countries that we had set as destinations. Greece cannot afford to ignore Africa. To be precise, Europe cannot afford to ignore Africa.
Mr. Rector, Mr. Dean, Colleague, Professors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
However, what constitutes a different reality from other periods is the persistent and protracted escalation. We had experienced major crises with Turkey, in 1974, the mid-1980s, the mid-1990s. But no crisis has ever lasted this long; it has already lasted close to three years, if not longer than that.
Fifthly, we are trying to develop our relations with countries which, as I say, lie beyond the horizon: emerging powers that have similar or compatible positions with us. I am referring to India, which is poised to become the world’s most populous country next year, to Japan – I have visited both countries in recent months – but also to Vietnam, a country of 100 million inhabitants, with positions similar to ours on the Law of the Sea, to Australia and Indonesia.
Of course, these relations with certain countries, and particularly with the most militarily powerful EU member state, France, which is also a nuclear superpower, have acquired a strategic character and have been framed by the well-known defence Agreement.
It is a great honour for me to be invited to launch the ‘NKUA Days’ event program. As rightly stated in the title of today’s event, Greece, Europe and the world are facing a maelstrom of international developments.
And in this fog surrounding the international landscape, our country faces the main challenge of our eastern neighbour, Turkey.
The elements comprising this challenge are not necessarily new:
• The threat of war, the casus belli,
• The questioning of Greek sovereignty and sovereign rights,
• The attempt to tarnish the image of our country on a daily basis,
• The instrumentalization of the migration issue.
But in general, we do not remain inactive. We are taking initiatives, building or strengthening our relations, our bridges of cooperation, without falling into the trap of pursuing an exclusively Turkey-centric policy, reacting only to what our neighbour does, claims or devises. Because we have a broader objective: to consolidate peace, security and stability in our wider neighbourhood and beyond.
In this regard, I liken our policy to the circles of the old Olympic Airways logo, the six intersecting circles.
Furthermore, we are waging three campaigns within the United Nations. The first one is our candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2025-2026 term. We have already secured 106 pledges of support in writing. I consider our election almost certain. For the moment there is no rival, there are two candidate countries, us and Denmark, running for two seats. Anyone entering the race now has a very long way to go before they can defeat the Greek candidacy. But, at the same time, we are waging two other campaigns, one for the Human Rights Council, where we have never been elected. There we have already managed to secure 34 support pledges in writing so far. Our campaign is only three months long, but we are extremely optimistic about that as well. The period is from 2028 onwards, so we have time. But we are also seeking election to the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly in 2035. We also consider this a major achievement of the Greek foreign policy as well. As you can understand, none of this is an attempt in futility by a small country to exert itself at the international stage. On the contrary, it demonstrates the effort of a medium-sized European country to highlight International Law, good neighbourliness and respect for human rights as the key element of a modern country’s presence on the global stage.
Now I come to our neighbourhood, the Balkans, especially the Western Balkans. As regards the Eastern Balkans, following the Thessaloniki agenda of 2003, Greece has had the considerable success of getting Bulgaria and Romania into the EU. But the challenge of the Western Balkans is huge and potentially destabilizing. Their European perspective is the only way to achieve stabilization in the region. We are making every effort both at the political and technical level to achieve this.
Thank you so much.
The recent, eccentric -but no less dangerous- contestation of half of the Aegean and Crete is the latest in a series of outrageous claims.


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