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Foreign Minister Kotzias’ address at the cutting of the Foreign Ministry’s New Year’s cake

Thursday, 07 January 2016

N. KOTZIAS: Many happy returns to all those celebrating their name day!

As is the case every year, we have the pleasure of cutting our cake.

First of all, I would like to thank you for all of the work we have done over past year, and particularly those who, with persistence, helped in the preparation of our negotiations, our actions, our presence on the international stage. There can be no government, no Foreign Ministry, no political leadership without the Service that works hard, with self-sacrifice and success, and it is certain that, in the new year, we will need your thoughts, your ideas, your initiatives.

I want to say this again, because I said it when I first came to the Ministry, and I say it when I see the personnel of the Directorates: that we cannot have creative foreign policy if you don’t give us your ideas and if we don’t discuss, collectively, our actions for having the initiatives we need.

Our Ministry may sometimes be a two-speed Ministry – some leave after midnight, and others come for fewer hours – but it continues, in my opinion, to be the best Ministry the country has. It continues to be a Ministry that has high-quality personnel and is highly productive, for the most part.

It is also true that the personnel of the Foreign Ministry have more problems than in the past. But I want you to remember that all of these problems are problems of a different order and level from the problems being faced by the average Greek, who may be unemployed, who may not have money to feed his or her family. And certainly, together we are fighting for a better income and rights for Foreign Ministry personnel. But don’t forget for even a moment that we are different and live differently and better than hundreds of thousands of Greeks.

But I wanted to say that, despite the difficulties we have before us – and we have objective, personal, economic difficulties – we must intensify our efforts. The future of the country depends to a great extent on foreign policy. And I don’t know whether, in the small day-to-day life that each of us leads, we bear in mind the importance of an action or a legal stance that we take, if we are from the Special Legal Service, or a proposal on the European level, if we are from the 3rd Directorate or A12, or inter-state relations and how they are developed by our 1st Directorates, and our economic relations by the 2nd Directorates.

Let us consider that these small day-to-day, and sometimes tedious, activities – after 20 or 30 years of service – are so important for the future of the country and can contribute, with impetus, I would say, to the improvement of the lives of day-to-day people. That is, I want you to think about yourselves. That the future of this land and the day-to-day lives of its citizens depend on your stance, on your day-to-day thinking, on the initiatives you take, on the ideas you generate.

Over the past year – and I hope this will continue – we had a proactive foreign policy. We put the country back into the Middle East and the Balkans, we are developing alliances, we are developing our European policy and our presence in the European institutions and the actions linked with the European Union.

We are taking initiatives from Skopje to the matter of guarantees for Cyprus. We have developed many sectors of diplomacy, from civil diplomacy to religious diplomacy, as with the recent conference we held on the Middle East.

I believe that the coming year will bring new successes for all of us. We will protect and defend our homeland, the rights and potential of this land.

I believe it will be a good year, but only our good work will make it so.

Once again, many happy returns of the day, and I wish we had ‘florins’ for everyone!

Many happy returns!

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