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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' statement to the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) following the proceedings of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Brussels, 6 March 2017)

Tuesday, 07 March 2017

JOURNALIST: Migration, external relations, Libya, Egypt at today's Council of Foreign Ministers.

N. KOTZIAS: And the Western Balkans, as well as the Middle East. I think it was a good day for the Council, because the policy on Egypt changed from one of an ongoing negative agenda to a positive agenda. That is, the Council started to consider ways and methods in which it can develop the EU's relations with Egypt, which is a pillar of stability and security in the region. We talked briefly about the migration issue and we had an in-depth discussion of the crisis that exists in the Western Balkans, with my colleagues expressing concerns about developments, particularly in Albania and FYROM. What we underscored is that the matter has to do with the fact that many see the EU as a source of funding, or as a perspective of participation in a centre of power. We noted that it has to be realised that the EU is a system with values and a democratic outlook, and that democracy requires that one have and hold a culture – as we call it – of compromise and consensus. That is, it cannot be that a basic democratic process doesn't function in the countries to our north. I also called on everyone situated around the countries having a crisis in the Western Balkans to take care to keep quiet regarding these countries' domestic developments, as we do: over the past two years, we have not publicly expressed a single opinion on their domestic developments.

JOURNALIST: Is this concern regarding the Western Balkans being manifested in the EU, and what role is being attributed to Greece?

N. KOTZIAS: This concern is being manifested in various ways. There are some who think that if we make things easier for these countries -- by making concessions or backing down -- these countries will like us more. I explained that this is not the problem. The problem is that these countries have to realise that they need to function democratically, and this means a democratic perception regarding the opposition, minority views, or even national minorities.

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