Kotzias briefed the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee

Kotzias briefed the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee


Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, informed the members of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in Parliament today regarding current developments.

According to diplomatic sources, during his intervention, Nikos Kotzias referred to the situation in Turkey, focusing on Greek-Turkish relations, with emphasis on Turkey’s provocative behaviour in the Aegean. The Foreign Minister stated that Greek diplomacy hold a sober and responsible attitude and makes sure that its international partners are informed accordingly, criticizing Ankara’s challenges, including statements which dispute the Lausanne Treaty.

Mr. Kotzias noted the intense contradictions that characterize Turkish society and referred to Turkey’s European perspective. He stressed that Greece supports a European and democratic Turkey. This, of course, he added, does not mean that he is under the illusion that the objective of the project is not difficult. In contrast, Greece is adopting a pragmatic approach to this issue, seeking to utilize all available levers at its disposal.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, the Foreign Minister referred to the negotiations and to the part concerning Greece particularly to the guarantees and security issues, noting the reluctance of the Turkish side to focus on this issue on which its position is, as stated, impossible. He recalled, that this element indeed became evident during the Geneva talks, when the UN had planned and announced talks for the next day and the Turkish delegation chose to leave the negotiating table,.

He added that the Foreign Ministry takes care in explaining to friends and partners, in a timely and comprehensive manner, what the Greek positions on Cyprus are in order to contribute towards a better understanding of all the components of the particular problem.

Subsequently, Mr. Kotzias spoke about his recent visit to the US, where he had meetings with the US Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser, Lt General McMaster and other US officials. He underlined that during a series of meetings in Washington an excellent political climate prevailed and that all national issues were discussed, including of course the Cyprus problem.

The Foreign Minister stressed that in the context of a multidimensional foreign policy in Greece a close collaboration with the American Government is being formed. These relations are always  guided by mutual respect for international law, he said, and every cooperation and joint action is designed to be in the interest of regional security and stability.

Finally Mr. Kotzias described the widespread instability that characterises the region in the current period and recalled the initiatives promoted by Greek diplomacy, through the establishment of tripartite shapes and quadripartite cooperation, including through the organization of international conferences, in order to contribute in the consolidating of stability, security and prosperity.

The Foreign Minister in his reply to Members’ questions, referred to the Cyprus issue and relations with the Western Balkans.

Returning to the issue of Euro-Turkish relations, Mr. Kotzias clarified that ultimately it is Turkey itself that should decide what it wants in terms of its European perspective.

He stressed that Ankara’s behaviour is one that will determine the outcome of the process, noting that Greece was not and is not an obstacle but it will not serve as a fig leaf to those who want to derail Turkey’s EU perspective.

At the same time, he argued that negotiations on the EU-Turkey customs union are a powerful tool and noted that the serious work being done at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in the inclusion of all Greek interest issues on Turkey in the Conclusions of the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council last December./IBNA