N. Kotzias: Greece can be a bridge between the West and Iran

N. Kotzias: Greece can be a bridge between the West and Iran

Athens, November 30, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias is on a two-day visit to Iran, which began on Sunday 29, where he will have contacts with the leadership of the Islamic republic, accompanied by deputy foreign minister Dimitris Mardas, deputy minister of industry Theodora Tzakri and a delegation of Greek businessmen.

In his speech at the University of Tehran, Kotzias explained that Greece wishes to act as a bridge between the West and emerging countries such as Iran, while at the same time, he made a reference to the steps that must be taken to find a direct solution to the refugee crisis.

As he explained at a press conference after meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is the will of both sides for this plan to be ready in view of the visit of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which will be held in the first half of 2016 .

“Iran has a wealth of raw materials”, Kotzias explained and stressed that “Allah gave Iran gas and oil. And us, our own gods, gave us our shipping. We are two economies in many areas, as minister Zarif says, complementary”. Therefore, he said he is optimistic, stressing that “we must restore our air transport, a development which will have positive effects in promoting tourism and our bilateral trade”.

“We consider a very important factor in the stabilisation of the region the development of our relations with Iran”, stated the Greek FM, stressing that these relations are following a good stream, which however he wants it to become a great river. “Relations concerning bilateral issues, the development of economic relations, and relations in the fields of culture, science and education will therefore be incorporated in this action plan, followed by visits at least twice a year, alternately in the two capitals as they agreed with Mr. Zarif, to check the progress of economic relations and political dialogue between the two countries”.

Relations between the two countries, one of the oldest in the history of mankind, however, as Kotzias explained “is well beyond current problems and could contribute to the solution of many problems”, stressing that Greece welcomes the Geneva Agreement of the 5+1 Group, “which involves a deep wisdom” as “showing the way in which problems should be solved”.

He added finally that, “whoever does not implement it, will stand to lose. Iran is a state that knows the importance of implementing what it signs, but the same must be done by the other parties that have signed the Agreement”.

Meanwhile, the Greek Foreign Minister expressed the satisfaction of Greece for the participation of Iran in the talks in Vienna as an important player in the region, noting the great interest of Greece for Syria, as Greece and countries like Greece are faced with the consequences of third party decisions regarding the refugee crisis. In this he stressed that on the issue of Syria, Greece is working with all its partners and friends for peace and a political solution.

Kotzias stressed the importance of the mediating role of Greece as a bridge between the Middle East and the EU, explaining that it can and understand this part of the world because, while it is the cradle of Europe and an EU Member State, at the same time is a part of this world and therefore can contribute to negotiations and help understand the culture, civilization and political thought of all parties in the region.

The economic and business cooperation between Greece and Iran was the focal point of the  conference entitled “Iran-Greece Forum: Undiscovered Opportunities” held in Tehran Monday, in the presence of the Greek government and business delegation that accompanied the Greek FM in this visit.

The Greek delegation was particularly impressed by the wide acceptance of Alexis Tsipras from the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran.