My dear Simon,
I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome you here in Athens today. It’s been nearly 20 years -17 years to be precise- since we last had the pleasure of welcoming an Irish Foreign Minister here.
However there have been presidential visits in the meantime. Needless to say, we’ve had a lot to discuss. There are long-standing bonds of friendship between the two countries, as well as shared values, shared perceptions, respect for International Law, the International Law of the Sea, the UNCLOS, and respect for human rights.
In January 2021, we agreed to draw up a Roadmap for the development of our bilateral relations which would include seven specific areas of cooperation; diaspora, migration, Transatlantic relations, and cooperation within the United Nations, just to name a few. We discussed today the great potential for improving our economic and trade relations.
We are very interested in attracting Irish investment to Greece and we would also like Ireland to become a place where Greek enterprises could easily operate. It is true that an increasing number of Irish people prefer to spend their holidays in Greece. Our cultural cooperation could also be very interesting. We also discussed how Greek students can find their way to the internationally renowned Irish Universities.
I must also thank you publicly because the Greek language has been taught in Dublin since 1592 and I should also mention that we recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the publication of “Ulysses”, the monumental novel by James Joyce, a well-known philhellene and ardent scholar of Greek literature.We were really touched by your post on Twitter about James Joyce flying the Greek flag in his apartment in Paris.
Furthermore, I have to thank you publicly for the stance that Ireland has taken on the issue of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
We had a particularly important discussion on the relationship that both countries have with their large Diaspora populations, how we can work together on this and how we can both benefit from each other’s experience.
In addition, our cooperation within the European Union is very close, while there is significant convergence of views on many issues. And following the extensive briefing that you were kind enough to give us, I had the opportunity to reiterate Greece’s position on the issue of the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a position that is based both on the spirit of Community solidarity and on the need to respect what has been agreed within the framework of International Law.
We wish to see the Protocol implemented in a consensual, constructive, and non-confrontational manner, which will allow daily life to continue smoothly.
I would also like to thank you for your briefing regarding the United Nations Security Council which Ireland is a member of. I’d like to remind you that we also have cooperation and mutual support for candidacies to the United Nations Security Council.
To be honest, we are very glad that Ireland is a member of the United Nations Security Council and we hope to draw on your expertise during this particular period.
We also share the same position on the issue of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; we both condemned it from the very beginning. We condemn revisionism wherever it comes from.
We will exchange views on the Middle East, Syria, Libya, as well as on the Western Balkans during the working lunch that will follow.
I’d like to thank you very much for giving us an update on your visit to the Turkish-Syrian border, together with our Norwegian friend and counterpart Anniken Huitfeldt. We are quite interested in what is happening on the Turkish-Syrian border, in relation to the migration issue.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for Ireland’s stance on the Cyprus issue; your contribution through your membership in the Security Council is of particular importance.
And, of course, thank you for the opportunity you gave me to brief you on the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, where I reiterated the long-established positions of Greece’s foreign policy, which are based on International Law and the International Law of the Sea. We are always open to dialogue, but solely on the basis of International Law and the International Law of the Sea. And it is not us who have decided to cut off channels of communication. Nor is it us who are escalating tension as regards rhetoric.
We wish to reduce tension and maintain open channels of communication. To be clear though, we will always defend our positions, and our national and European interests, based on International Law and the International Law of the Sea.
Ireland is quite aware of them both. After all, it has made a significant positive contribution to the development of the UNCLOS and, in particular, to the issues of maritime boundaries, the continental shelf and the rights of rocky islets.
And I hope that Ireland will maintain its current position to uphold these principles in all international fora.
My dear Simon, as I already stated, we have much more to discuss. We will get a view of the Acropolis during our working lunch. I’m sorry though, but I think I won’t be able to offer you a Guinness beer.
Thank you so much for being here today.
My dear Simon,