HomeGreeceMinister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ speech at the Standing Committee on...

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ speech at the Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament (08.09.2022)

We understand very well the problems of dysfunction that arise within the European family of 27 countries; we are well aware that some countries often support positions that do not do justice to the unified effort, especially in the field of Foreign and Security Policy. However, the European state of affairs is not yet ready to abolish unanimity.
But to be frank with regard to the United States of America, the school “of realism”, as it is called, I put it in quotation marks because I am not necessarily endorsing the name-, that is the theory of realism in foreign policy of which Mr. Kissinger is the foremost exponent, is not the only one existing in the United States.
However, objectively, its significance is extremely limited.
It is therefore of very limited importance and again I say this as diplomatically as possible. And I don’t think that Greece could do anything with regard to this particular relatively minor provision.
In all three cases, Turkey’s enraged reaction is the strongest proof of how adequate the response was.
The reasoning behind this effort is to create a cultural shield for a historic center associated with Hellenism, and not just because the Greek Revolution started there.
In principle, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance with the inclusion of countries and members that respect principles and values that Greece supports and subscribes to, is a strategic choice for our country, as the government has stated in every possible way.
But to demonstrate how this trilateral Memorandum hardly worked, I’ll tell you about something that’s yesterday’s news. What Turkey was actually pursuing was its participation in the military mobility program under PESCO. And to which this trilateral memorandum made reference.
However, I will conclude by saying that we, like the vast majority of parties, believe that the accession of Finland and Sweden into the North Atlantic Alliance by the sovereign choice of their peoples benefits Greece, as well.
As far as Odessa is concerned, -since you made mention of it- you know that we made an effort to have the center of Odessa designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
It is clear that there is absolute unanimity in the Greek political system, the parties, the Greek people, and Greek society on this issue.
Ms. Sakorafa, whose wise words I always appreciate, noted our absence from the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev. She said it kindly. She said that no minister attended, but since the only Minister here is me, obviously I am called upon to respond.
The reference to the occupation of the Greek islands is totally unacceptable. It is completely beyond the pale.  I used the term “dailikia” (bullying) before the French Foreign Minister the other day so as to emphasize how unacceptable, unprecedented, and unheard-of these things are. They do not stand up to any criticism and do not deserve any response.
And in fact, when we are talking about lifting the embargo, we are referring to Article 7 of the trilateral Memorandum between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden.  Article 7 refers to a bilateral embargo and it actually refers to the embargo that Sweden, because Finland hasn’t imposed anything; Sweden had imposed an embargo on Turkey after Turkish troops invaded Syria. That’s what we’re talking about, that’s what this case is about.
Treaties are amended by unanimity. Consequently, I doubt anyone in this room assumes that Turkey will agree to such a different understanding.
Let me return for a moment to the issues regarding Turkey. Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, I do not underestimate -as many of you have said- what Turkish officials have said in recent days.
Greece is not such a country. We have managed, with enormous sacrifices to be part of a European reality, a democratic reality, a place where human rights are protected.
And let me remind you that the German Foreign Minister was in Athens and Ankara, as was the French Foreign Minister, and they said what had to be said both here and there. And the day after tomorrow Prime Minister, Mr. Mitsotakis, will be in Paris at the beginning of next week to meet with President Macron.
And this certainly works to the detriment of our country, as far as Turkish aggression is concerned. “Well, why isn’t there any attempt to amend them? It’s simple””, you might say.
Of course, we can defend our country ourselves; it is our duty; No serious country in the world entrusts to other powers, even the friendliest ones, to defend it. But that does not mean that we have no friends, no allies, no support.
This does not mean, however, that the Russian invasion alone is the ticket to accession. Necessary reforms will also be required and we, on our part, will help as much as we can.
The fact that present-day Russia invaded Ukraine will not cause humanity to erase its enormous cultural contribution to the history and culture of humankind.
To put it as diplomatically and elegantly as I can, the not particular empowerment of Europe is not the only view in the American state of affairs. And let me remind you of President Obama’s enormous effort to prevent Brexit, at which he failed of course.
Turkish aggressive conduct is unacceptable, it is rejected, but it does not scare us. Ladies and gentlemen MPs, thank you very much.
I just want to point out that, if I recall correctly, the social democratic party historically is the party of Marx and also that President Putin, if the Communist Party allows me to say so, has differentiated himself from the Leninist…
First of all, Mr. Katrougalos mentioned, if I am not mistaken, Kissinger’s understanding of Europe’s role. It is indeed as you say, in his great work, ‘Diplomacy’.
And why am I saying this? Because there is indeed a gap in the founding treaty. Article 5, which protects countries against attacks by third countries, does not cover aggression by a member country.
The invasion of the Baltic countries. Tanks killed people in the Baltic countries. As did -and that is not known- in Azerbaijan. Please, if you wish, I refer you to the post of the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, who can in no way be called a man holding extreme views and is also a good friend of Greece.
If you recall, I had visited Mariupol a few weeks prior to the Russian invasion. As for the issue of the necessary reforms in Ukraine, I’d like to inform you that in the previous days I received a phone call from Professor Flogaitis and I’d like to tell you that EPLO has taken an advisory role regarding some of the necessary reforms in Ukraine.
But this case leaves out, and it could not be otherwise, any decision taken by the European institutions, or the institutions of the North Atlantic Alliance.
And the European Union’s representative has taken a clear position on behalf of the High Representative and on behalf of all of us and so has the Czech Presidency, and I remind you that the Czech Foreign Minister, who was here on an official visit some time ago and afterwards on a private one, also took a clear positionl.
Nonetheless, the effort was made, at a time when other powers believed that Brexit should be pursued exactly for the purpose of weakening the European Union. So, there is not a unified view across the Atlantic; there are very many actors that believe that a strong Europe with a defense arm can be the best partner and ally for the United States in the effort for global stability and security.
Not only narrowly on defence issues but also on broader issues in which our country places special interest. I would like to point out the protection of the environment, in the Arctic, which we will also address in the context of the protection of the marine environment at the 2024 Ocean Conference. It is of enormous importance to us and is also covered by UNCLOS.
I will comment a little on Turkey at the end of my speech. However, I just want to say that in terms of values, recalling these ideas and the fact that the Alliance must serve these ideas, democracy, human rights, and freedoms, is something of great importance to Greece.
Now, allow me to give answers to the many questions raised during the debate, which, I believe, may interest the Parliament the most.
N. DENDIAS: No, no, I’m going to talk about someone else who is yours. I am referring to Lenin, he is yours; do not put him on us as well.
Vulgar threats about when someone will come do not affect Greek people, and there is no way that we will fall into the obvious trap of escalatory rhetoric, of responding with similar vulgar threats and expressions and in the end turn an issue of principle, of International Law, of International Legality, into an oriental quarrel.
That is where we belong, that is how we behave, that is how we express our thoughts, and we will not allow anyone to drag us down to their own level for their own reasons and for their own political tactics, regardless of where they come from, whether they come from a neighbouring or another country.
Mikhail Gorbachev had also a dark side. Of course, there is always the [Greek] saying “the deceased is justified”, but he is justified in the sense that he is beyond our judgement, not in the sense that what he did in this world cannot be judged or evaluated and that there should be a blanket covering what everyone did during their earthly life.
EPLO, the European Public Law Organization, as you are aware, has sizeable Greek participation and is headquartered in Athens. Consequently, our country, to the extent possible, will help Ukraine to carry out the necessary reforms so that -and I want to be clear on this point- it can meet the criteria for its accession to the European Union.
Consequently, one realizes that while this trilateral Memorandum was used for the Turkish public opinion in a particular way, which is of very little concern to us, it is not our business to get involved in Turkey’s internal political life.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated this, as have I, and I would like to say that a significant effort was made by the Greek side, which I believe bore fruit in Madrid, so that there is a clear reference to this value framework in NATO’s Strategic Concept.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ speech at the session of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs (15.03.2022)Elaboration and Review of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs draft laws:
A. “Ratification of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of the Republic of Finland”
Β. “Ratification of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of the Kingdom of Sweden”

Thank you, Mr. President.  Ladies and Gentlemen MPs,
But I am saying that in particularly important cases, such as Ukraine, unanimity has been achieved. We have achieved unanimity and we must maintain it.
I am due to travel to Ukraine on October 6, and before me, the President of the Republic is due to visit Ukraine. He was also kind enough to remind us that I have actually been to Odessa twice and I also visited Ukraine shortly before the invasion.
So, I am telling you that the Turkish request to participate was rejected yesterday by the relevant committee at technical level in the Netherlands. We did not have to resort to a Greek veto, which could have been a possibility, because Turkey technically did not meet the requirements.
As regards the other question about abolishing unanimity -I think it was again Mr. Loverdos who asked the question- the Greek position is clear and has been stated: no, we are not ready.
We believe that by becoming members, they can contribute to the North Atlantic Alliance, and I’d like to state that Greek foreign policy, which has always been a principled policy, cannot enter into a bargaining logic in order to extract something. After all, that would make us look like our neighbouring country and I believe it wouldn’t do justice to our overall presence on the international stage.
As you are aware, -I have said that repeatedly- the building where the Greek Revolution began, where members of the Filiki Etairia met, is a property of ours.
You are also aware that, as we speak, a Ukrainian counteroffensive is underway in the Kherson region and in Eastern Ukraine. Of course, it is not in my capacity to inform you about that; I’m simply emphasizing it.
It is maintained by the Greek state. The relevant exhibits have now been stored in the basement. I note that there are letters from Pushkin, the great Russian poet, who attended meetings of the Filiki Etairia.
President Putin does not subscribe to Leninist internationalism. President Putin adheres to the concept of the ‘Russkiy Mir’, that is, the “Russian world”, which he stands for. If we had time, we could discuss where it comes from, what is happening, and what is the theoretical basis of this concept, which can in no way justify or explain the unacceptable invasion of Ukraine.
Aside from that, we have very close and friendly relations with both Finland and Sweden, two countries that are members of the European Union, with an excellent system for the protection of human rights, and remarkable armed forces.
Greece also believes in the need to reform the United Nations’ functioning as well as the United Nations Security Council. Greece is aware of the need for other important countries to participate in the United States Security Council.
As part of my response, I will just comment briefly on what has been said about the issue of the embargo imposed by these two countries, of the one actually, of Sweden, on Turkey and how it was not safeguarded in the context of this negotiation.
Ms. Sakorafa, to be honest, Mikhail Gorbachev, in my view, is a controversial figure, and therefore, apart from the practical difficulty of the Greek Foreign Minister going to Moscow at this juncture, I cannot forget that aside from his contribution to the liberation of forces that were claiming an autonomous say and an autonomous national presence, he was the man who allowed, I say allowed, not to say ordered, the invasion of the Baltic countries.
Now, I come to the remarks on Ukraine and the visits to Kyiv. Mr. Loverdos is right. These visits have indeed been delayed.
And I would also like to ask that it be underlined because it should be underlined, and if you like, because it is in our interest and it should be underlined that the United States has also taken a clear position on this issue. I can submit the statements to you, but there’s no point for a Minister of the Greek Government in submitting statements by officials of another country.
As for the question of the Prime Minister’s embargo, which I believe was raised by Mr. Katrougalos again, I think the Prime Minister is being treated unfairly.
Mr. ……: (inaudible question)
I will say a few words about the Accession Protocols of Sweden and Finland brought to the Hellenic Parliament for ratification and then I will take a little time and the opportunity of our meeting to respond to some of the issues that you were kind enough to raise in the debate before the Committee, which as always was conducted in a climate of decency and dialogue, which I believe is extremely important.
By invading Ukraine, Russia is doing an injustice to itself and its contribution. However, Greece was also involved in another way. As Mayor of Odessa, a compatriot of mine -he originated from Corfu-  Grigorios Maraslis, saw to the construction of many of the buildings in the center of Odessa. We, therefore, have an important role to play in facilitating this effort.
With regard to the criticism leveled at us, and more specifically on the views of social democratic parties, we are not a social democratic party, so we do not need to apologize for the stance of social democrats in Europe; that is the job of other parties, in the opposition.
I believe that the country did everything it could as part of its original and, I reiterate, right choice not to engage in oriental bargaining.

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