Kotzias: We want a Turkey that is a good neighbor

Kotzias: We want a Turkey that is a good neighbor

In a positive political climate and for over 2 hours Greek Foreign Minster Nikos Kotzias and Federica Mogherini discussed foreign policy and security issues at the Greek FM in Athens.

The EU’s High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, arrived in Athens at midday, with a delay, due to bad weather at Munich Airport. This delay was the reason for the cancellation of her scheduled meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Federica Mogherini met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and then was accepted by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, with whom she had a one-and-a-half hour one on one meeting, followed by a wider meeting between the two delegations.

At the end of their bilateral contacts, Nikos Kotzias and Federica Mogherini held a press conference.

In his opening statements, Nikos Kotzias, welcomed  the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and stressed that he supported the basic choices, both in shaping the common European foreign policy and in shaping a global EU strategy.

As the Greek Foreign Minister pointed out, Global Strategy broke unilateral positions in Europe where each time problems were treated as unique. Life has proven that there can be problems taking place simultaneously.

Nikos Kotzias also assured of Greece’s support for the EU’s policy of integrating the Western Balkans into the European family. We support the Enlargement Policy for the Western Balkans, always with a prerequisite that they meet the criteria set, stated the Greek Foreign Minister.

I addition he stated that “we support the course of Montenegro. We support the unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have always been helping, as and where we are asked; starting from Albania meeting the five criteria set by our Council of Ministers, we also support the European course of our northern friendly country, FYROM, provided – and we hope this premise is easier today than yesterday – the solution of the nomenclature. ”

Finally, Nikos Kotzias praised Federica Mogherini’s effort in the EU’s relations with Turkey. “With boldness and stability Ms Mogherini supports the need to see a European Turkey, without discounts but essentially Europeanised”, noting that “for Greece, it is in our interest to have a neighbour that is both European and deeply democratic. Consequently, we are the ones that we gain most of all from a Europeanised Turkey. And that’s why we support this course, despite the difficulties, despite the ups and downs of history, steadily”.

We want a Turkey that is a good neighbour, Nikos Kotzias continued. “We only have something to gain from a Turkey that is on a European road. I must tell you that I am sorry, as a friend of Turkey, when I realize that it is thinking in terms that are behind our time. And as far as the Cyprus issue is concerned, when it thinks that it must have the right to intervene and have occupation troops, these are phenomena of another era. This era has come to an end”, the Greek Foreign Minister concluded.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, Nikos Kotzias thanked the Foreign Minister, the UN Secretary General and Mogherini, the European Union and its President, for the firm support they have provided Cyprus for a solution to the Cyprus problem in “a manner that Cyprus becomes a normal state. A state without foreign troops, without third party intervention, a term that we were pleased to see adopted by the UN Secretary-General”.

On her part, after expressing her condolences for the tragic earthquake in Kos, Federica Mogherini, highlighted the points of the discussons with both Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

The Balkans are a priority both for her as well as the EU, for the guarantee of security, peace of regional cooperation and unification of the region, said Mogherini. The intensification of a road to the EU is necessary to ensure stability, peace, reconciliation and economic development in the Balkan region. “Greece’s role is therefore important and we thank it for framing the EU with serious, systematic and insightful work, and we hope that things will go as we hope,” said the High Representative. While she did not hide her desire that at the end of her mandate she would want the whole region to have reached a point when its course towards the European Union is irreversible.

As for the Cyprus problem she praised Nikos Kotzias’ “excellent job” for finding a solution at Crans-Montana and said that she was optimistic that at some point this process could continue to be built while she was convinced that there is enough substance to continue the process, “when the political conditions are suitable”.

Federica Mogherini noted that the EU looks forward to welcoming a united island as a member state of the Union. This means that any solution to the issue of the Cyprus problem should be consistent, in line with the Union’s security architecture. There is an acquis concerning the internal settlement of the matter, but there is also a security issue that must respond to the current Union security architecture.

“Normally, there is no security issue ,” Federica Mogherini continued, “but there is agreement on what is acceptable and what is not, what is sustainable and what is not to be a member state of the European Union. This was made quite clear during the negotiations both bilaterally and during the meeting. The European Union is not involved in the negotiations on the Cyprus issue. We are very careful, we respect our role, which must be absolutely clear in institutional terms, we are observers in the negotiations. We do not participate, we are not guarantors. We monitor and support. We have tried and will continue, I am sure, to try and ensure the future involvement of a united island in the European Union”, the High Representative stressed.

Concerning Turkey, Federica Mogherini pointed out that “it is not only a candidate country, which implies some commitments to the rule of law and human rights. Turkey is also a member of the Council of Europe and this has clear preconditions. That is why we are often working with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, with whom I met a few weeks ago in Strasbourg, to guarantee that the commitments made by Turkey as a sovereign state to respect a high level of respect for human rights, freedom of the press, as well as the rights of the opposition in the country, will be respected. “/ΙΒΝΑ