Continuing participation in the works of the 72nd UN GA, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had meetings with his counterparts from Armenia, Colombia, Lebanon and attended a working lunch with his Albanian counterpart and at a working dinner with his counterpart from FYROM.
The first bilateral meeting for the Greek Foreign Minister was with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian. At the meeting, the two ministers focused on the cooperation between the two countries following the Foreign Minister’s visit to Yerevan last March, with emphasis on the political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries on issues of mutual interest and the strengthening of the economic cooperation in areas such as energy, transport and tourism.
The two sides also examined the whole range of EU-Armenia relations, the reinforcement of which could be achieved by the activation of the tripartite co-operation between Greece and Bulgaria-Armenia, proposed by the Greek side.
Issues of regional interest, including the Cyprus problem, were also raised, for which the Armenian Foreign Minister asked to be informed of the latest developments.
They also discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the forthcoming Kurdish referendum in northern Iraq. Nikos Kotzias invited his Armenian counterpart to visit Athens at the end of this year, on a date to be determined through the diplomatic channel.
Following that, the Greek Foreign Minister had a bilateral meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar.
During the meeting, which was held in a warm climate, ways were explored to strengthen bilateral co-operation with consultations between Foreign Ministries on issues of mutual interest, including the educational-cultural co-operation, but also ways to increase trade.
Particular mention was also made on issues of electronic goverance where both sides agreed to exchange relevant expertise and best practices. Furthermore, the Colombian Foreign Minister briefed her Greek counterpart on the positive prospects opened by the signing and implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the FARC. At the invitation of the Greek Foreign Minister, Ms Holguín will visit Athens in mid-December 2017, while she extended a a similar invitation to N. Kotzias to visit Colombia in 2018.
Early in the afternoon was held Mr Kotzias’s last scheduled bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil.
The meeting was held in an excellent climate, confirming the excellent level of bilateral relations. Discussion focused on issues of regional and international interest, with emphasis on developments in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the refugee-migrant issue.
The Greek Foreign Minister analyzed the content of the greek initiatives on security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region, highlighting the Rhodes Conference’s acquis to promote a positive cooperation agenda. In this context, cooperation between Greece and Lebanon in the cultural and educational field was discussed at governmental and university level, along with the feasibility of building a wider architecture of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Furthermore, the two Ministers agreed to boost the momentum of trilateral co-operation with Cyprus, considering the possibility of the next meeting being convened in the near future. Bilateral cooperation issues, including mutual support for nominations in international organizations, were also considered. Finally, the Minister invited his Lebanese counterpart to take part in the 2nd International Conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” to be held in Athens in late October, as well as at the 3rd Rhodes Conference on Security and Stability that will take place at the end of June 2018.
Outside the schedule, on Wednesday afternoon, there was a contact between the Greek and Albanian Foreign Ministers and a working lunch was closed between Nikos Kotzias and Ditmir Bushati at Avra Estiatorio Madison. The meal that lasted for over two hours was conducted in a very good climate and an extensive discussion was held on all bilateral issues and regional and international developments. The two men also discussed the four-part meeting that will be held between Greece, Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria, an initiative by Nikos Kotzia, about a year ago.
According to IBNA information, there was extensive discussion on how to overcome the efforts of specific circles that insist on creating artificial tension between the two countries through publications and actions.
In the evening, the Greek Foreign Ministry sat at a dinner, as a guest of FYROM’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. According to IBNA, the meeting was conducted in a very good atmosphere and an in depth discussion took place, in a bid to overcome the suspicion between the two sides. The third substantial meeting of the two men and the positive climate that was cultivated throughout dinner will launch developments in the immediate aftermath of local elections in FYROM.
On Thursday, Nikos Kotzias’ program includes a meeting with the Archbishop of America Dimitrios and a Ministerial meeting of members of the Forum of Ancient Civilizations, an initiative of the Greek Foreign Ministry.
Finally, Nikos Kotzias will attend the dinner of the Federation of Cypriot Organizations of America, which is being held in his honour for his contribution to the Cyprus issue./IBNA