HomeGreeceStatement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following his meeting...

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, Gordan Grlić Radman (Athens, 12 March 2021)

“Dear Minister, dear Gordan, good afternoon and welcome to Athens.

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Athens today, following my visit to Zagreb during the Croatian presidency. And I must congratulate you and Croatia on the very successful outcome of this presidency, which took place under very difficult circumstances.

You were the first country that had to adapt to the extremely difficult conditions of the pandemic and you did so with complete success.

During our talks today, we looked at our bilateral relations – our extremely good bilateral relations. As you know, there is also a very close personal friendship between the Prime Minister of Croatia, Mr. Plenković, and the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

And I thank you for your kindness in remembering that Greece was the first country to come to Croatia’s aid after the earthquake.

We had the opportunity to exchange views on the prospects of deepening our cooperation.  We mentioned the great importance we both attach to the TAP natural gas pipeline, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and its vertical branches, such as the Ionian-Adriatic pipeline. These projects contribute significantly to our region’s energy security.

And of course, we discussed our cooperation in the context of the European Union. And in this context, I would like to thank Croatia, the Minister here and, of course, the Prime Minister, Mr. Plenković, for the support they have shown us for a year now, with Prime Minister Plenković’s visit during the Croatian Presidency to our border in Evros, when an attempt was made to provoke a mass influx of migrants into European territory.

I had the opportunity to reiterate that Greece supports Croatia’s joining the core of the European Union, including the Schengen Area and the eurozone.

And naturally, we had an in-depth discussion of the European perspective of the countries of the Western Balkans, always in the framework, of course, of conditionality – the criteria that have been set for each country. But we agreed with the Croatian side and with my friend and colleague that, for us, the case of the Western Balkans is a strategic priority and common goal.

I also reiterated our will for an intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia, as well as with Albania, as soon as they meet the criteria set by the European Council.

We also referred to the Croatian non-paper on the European perspective of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which Greece supports, and we talked in detail about issues concerning Bosnia-Herzegovina.

We also talked about regional cooperation issues, and I mentioned Greece’s upcoming Chairmanship of the South-East European Cooperation Process.

Ahead of the upcoming meeting of the European Council, we also discussed EU-Turkey relations and I had the opportunity to underscore that the report to be submitted by the institutions should be balanced. It should have proposals for both a positive agenda and the prospect of taking restrictive measures if our neighbour Turkey again gives in to the temptation to return to unlawful conduct.

I also underscored to my colleague – and we will also be discussing this during the luncheon – what the framework is for our talks with Turkey and what the precise meaning of exploratory talks, which are not negotiations, is.

We also referred to the need to create a framework of close cooperation and dialogue between our two Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

It is very important to us to create closer cooperation with Croatia. The fact that we have no bilateral disputes should not lead to our distancing ourselves from one another.

On the contrary, precisely because we do not have any bilateral disputes, we must work even more on a positive agenda, promoting our economic relations, promoting our efforts towards a common understanding of problems, joint responses to problems, a shared outlook on our future on the Mediterranean.  A common outlook on how to manage the maritime-zone issues created by the Mediterranean that can and must be dealt within the framework of the International Law of the Sea – which is international law – to which Croatia is a party, both individually and as a member of the European Union.

Once again, my dear Gordan, I would like to thank you for visiting us here and for your close cooperation, and I look forward to deepening our relations and to our frequent meeting in the future so that we can deepen our relations even further.

Thank you very much.”

Additional remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias:

“Thank you, my dear Gordan.

I must thank you warmly on behalf of Greece for agreeing to host these 12 unaccompanied minors. It is very important to us that you are standing by us on migration issues, through Frontex and through this gesture.

You know how much we support your effort to join the MED 7. You are a Mediterranean country. You have a very long and, I must say, beautiful Mediterranean coastline, and we will be very pleased to have you join.

So, thank you. We look forward to a common future with Croatia.  Thank you for this visit. We greatly appreciate it.”


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