Tuesday, 17 October 2017
greek english french
Home arrow Current Affairs arrow Press Briefings arrow Briefing of diplomatic correspondence by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Briefing of diplomatic correspondence by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Main points:

[on the Minister’s upcoming trips to Cyprus (14 February) and New York (17 February)]

•    The talks are aimed at our being able to discuss in depth the developments we have in the Cyprus issue. We had the Geneva meeting, we have a process that is in progress, but that has not moved ahead at the pace we would’ve liked, and this is due mainly to the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side persists in older positions. We need a clear commitment from Mr. Eroglu to what has already been agreed upon. This needs to be clear. And the Turkish Cypriot side will have to come to the negotiations with a will for us to make progress.

•    We also believe that the role of the UN is decisive – as is that of the international community in general, but particularly the UN, as the guardian of this process. We need to keep it objective and to help it along in a manner that will enable us to take the necessary steps.

[on the demonstrations in occupied Cyprus]


•    We have monitored the latest developments in the occupied territories very carefully, and I must say that we think that these developments reflect the reality that exists at this time in occupied Cyprus. We are talking about a situation that is not viable. A situation that essentially exists as a product of a military invasion; as a result of the ongoing occupation. We see the Turkish Cypriots under pressure, essentially, from settlers; from the occupying force. That is why Turkey needs, at long last, to let Cyprus breathe. The Turkish Cypriot side needs to be able to participate constructively in the negotiations so that Cyprus – all of Cyprus, all of the Cypriot people – can enjoy the benefits of membership in the European Union.

[on the Vassilakis-Jolevski meeting]

•    There was in fact a meeting yesterday of the two negotiators with the Secretary General’s representative, after almost a year’s hiatus for such meetings. First of all it is a positive development that we had this meeting. As you know, Greece is dedicated to the UN process. We believe in this process and we believe that a solution will come from this process. We are satisfied at the fact that everyone now acknowledges – and Mr. Nimetz did so as well in his statements yesterday – the importance of the initiative Greece took for these direct meetings between the two Prime Ministers; meetings that really can create a better climate. Greece has shown – and Greece has shown this at the negotiating table – that we want to move ahead to a solution and we want to do it now. The leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – which has on the one hand stated that it wants a solution, but has essentially remained stationary – needs to take the necessary steps so that we can reach a solution.

[on the Turkish warship passing through Greek waters]


•    We have repeatedly stated at every opportunity, and to the Turkish side as well, that this conduct is not consistent with international law and is a provocation against Greece. These are actions that undermine the climate in our bilateral relations and our efforts to improve these relations. It is clear that as long as such actions continue, there cannot be a substantial improvement in and normalization of Greek-Turkish relations. For our part, and in every case, all the necessary actions are carried out, both operationally and diplomatically, to safeguard the rights and sovereignty of our country, and this needs to be crystal clear to everyone. Beyond that, however, Turkey also needs to understand that within the framework of good neighbourly relations, within the framework of Turkey’s European course, and also given Turkey’s stated desire to improve its relations with Greece, such conduct is not appropriate.

Complete transcript of the briefing (translation):

Mr. Delavekouras: Good morning. I’ll start with the program of the political leadership. At 11:00 this morning, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas started a meeting with the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Cyprus, Mr. Downer, and that meeting is currently in progress.

On Monday, 14 February, Mr. Droutsas will travel to Cyprus, where he will be received by President Christofias. He will also meet with Cypriot Foreign Minister Kyprianou and with representatives of the political parties. These meetings and the meeting with Mr. Downer are taking place so that we can have a clear picture of the developments in the negotiations on the Cyprus issue following the meeting in Geneva and in light of the secretary general’s intention to draw up a report on the course of the negotiations at the end of February. This will be an opportunity for Greece to state its views on the negotiations in progress and to express once again its support for the Cypriot leadership in the efforts they are making.

On 14 and 15 February, Mr. Droutsas will carry out a visit to the United Kingdom, where he will meet with the Foreign Secretary and the Deputy Foreign Secretary responsible for EU and NATO affairs. Mr. Droutsas will also meet with opposition leader Mr. Miliband.

On 17 February, Mr. Droutsas will be in New York, where he will meet with the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He will also meet with the Archbishop of America and representatives of the Greek American community. The meetings with the UN Secretary General will focus on the Cyprus issue, the course of the negotiations on the FYROM name issue, developments in the Middle East, and environmental issues.

On Sunday, 20 February, Mr. Droutsas will travel to Vienna to participate in a roundtable discussion being hosted by the Austrian daily “Der Standard” on the issue of the euro and the future of the European Union.

Finally, on Monday, 21 February, Mr. Droutsas and Alternate Foreign Minister Xenogiannakopoulou will be in Brussels to participate in the meetings of the General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils. The GAC will prepare for the 24-25 March European Council, and the FAC agenda so far includes the situation in the Middle East, Somalia, the horn of Africa, and the situation in Lebanon.

Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou will today receive the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus, at 11:00, and the Ambassador of Ireland, at 11:30. At 11:30 on Monday, 14 February, Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou and Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis will meet with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantica, who will be carrying out a visit to our country.

At 18:00 today, Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis will deliver a speech entitled “Green Challenges in a Green Security Era” at the second International Conference on Security, which is being held under the auspices of the Greek International Business Association (SEVE) in Thessaloniki. The subject of the Conference is global challenges, the UN, European Union and NATO in the new security environment.

On the morning of 15 February, Mr. Kouvelis will attend a meeting of the Institutions and Transparency Committee for NGOs. That will take place in Parliament.

From 16 to 18 February, Mr. Kouvelis will carry out a visit to Budapest, where he will have bilateral meetings and participate in a business forum.

That’s it for announcements. I’m ready for your questions.

Mr. Hadoulis: Thank you. My question concerns the upgrading of the accreditation process of the Palestinian Chargé d'Affaires in Athens, who I think has been here about a week. We recently had a similar move from Ireland, and there was a strong negative reaction in Israel. So I want to ask, in our case, how you think Israel might react to this move on our part.

Mr. Delavekouras:
Our relations with Israel are relations of excellent cooperation. What has been upgraded is the procedure for presentation of credentials by the representative of the Palestinian Authority in Athens, who will now present his credentials to the President of the Republic. This is something that essentially reflects the level of relations between Greece and the Palestinian Authority. Beyond that, I can’t imagine why there might have been some problem on the Israeli side. Our cooperation with Israel is very good, and Israel knows that Greece is a trusted collocutor who, precisely because it has the trust of all the sides regarding the Middle East issue, can help with its own means, with its own meetings, to promote the peace process. This is the reality of the situation, and I can’t imagine any issue that there might be.

Mr. Papathanasiou: Will Mr. Droutsas be visiting Washington for meetings at the State Department or other meetings as part of his visit to New York and the U.S.? Can we assume that the focus of these meetings – given that they start in Cyprus, and London, Washington, New York – is the Cyprus issue? Will it be the Middle East? What is the main agenda for these talks?

Mr. Delavekouras: Mr. Droutsas’s visit to New York is for a meeting with the UN Secretary General. He will also have the opportunity for meetings, as I said, with the Archbishop and with representatives of the Greek American community. It is a meeting. And these meetings in general – today’s meeting with Mr. Downer, the visit to the Republic of Cyprus, the talks with the Secretary General – are certainly aimed, as well, at our being able to discuss in depth the developments we have in the Cyprus issue.

We had the Geneva meeting, we have a process that is in progress, but that has not moved ahead at the pace we would’ve liked, and this is due mainly to the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side persists in older positions. We need a clear commitment from Mr. Eroglu to what has already been agreed upon. This needs to be clear. And the Turkish Cypriot side will have to come to the negotiations with a will for us to make progress.

We also believe that the role of the UN is decisive – as is that of the international community in general, but particularly the UN, as the guardian of this process. We need to keep it objective and to help it along in a manner that will enable us to take the necessary steps. We have a report from the Secretary General ahead of us. So we want to discuss with him how he sees the developments following the two meetings he had with the leaders of the two communities, as well as the upcoming milestones in the negotiation process. That is why we want Greece, too, to be able to state its positions clearly so that we can help as much as possible.

Mr. Kapoutsis:
Is there any comment on the reactions of the Turkish Cypriots to Erdogan’s policy?

Mr. Delavekouras: We have monitored the latest developments in the occupied territories very carefully, and I must say that we think that these developments reflect the reality that exists at this time in occupied Cyprus. We are talking about a situation that is not viable. A situation that essentially exists as a product of a military invasion; as a result of the ongoing occupation.

We see the Turkish Cypriots under pressure, essentially, from settlers; from the occupying force. That is why Turkey needs, at long last, to let Cyprus breathe. The Turkish Cypriot side needs to be able to participate constructively in the negotiations so that Cyprus – all of Cyprus, all of the Cypriot people – can enjoy the benefits of membership in the European Union.

Ms. Bibe: Mr. Spokesman, I think you will have learned of the statements of the Greek Consul in Korce. I would like to learn whether Athens agrees with these statements are not. What has been done to defuse this crisis?

Mr. Delavekouras:
Essentially, we have monitored a very large debate in the Albanian press regarding certain statements. Because I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings, and we need to be clear on this and Greece is clear on this: we see the Greek national minority in Albania as a bridge of friendship between the two peoples. Full respect for their rights and the implementation of the relevant commitments and obligations of the Albanian side are a barometer in our bilateral relations as well as a criterion for Albania’s European course.

The issues being faced by the Greek national minority are dealt with by our country in modern terms of the protection of minority rights and based on the relevant international obligations and commitments of Albania – particularly within the framework of Albania’s European course. This includes respect for and protection of the rights of the minority throughout Albanian territory and not exclusively in areas that have been designated as minority zones.

We see the census that is scheduled to be carried out this year in Albania as a tool, first of all, for the Albanian state itself; an invaluable tool. The census needs to be carried out in accordance with international standards, both as regards the drawing up of the questionnaire as well as how the census itself is carried out, as a necessary step towards comprehensive political protection of the rights of minorities. In parallel, I repeat, it is also an obligation Albania has to the European Union, on its European course.

Greek-Albanian relations are of strategic importance to us. They are relations in which we have proved that we will stand by Albania as it takes steps towards the European Union, towards this vital aspiration of the Albanian people that Greece supports. We shouldn’t look for opportunities to blow situations out of proportion in order to create an impression. Our cooperation is ongoing. The talks, the meetings and the dialogue is ongoing, and that is how it should be seen. It is important that the Albanian side, too, perceive the Greek national minority as the bridge of friendship and cooperation that I mentioned.

Mr. Antoniou: Mr. Spokesman, yesterday, after a number of months, we had another meeting under Mr. Nimetz on the issue of FYROM’s name. First of all, what came out of yesterday’s meeting, and second, is there any intent on the part of Mr. Nimetz to schedule any moves to bring this procedure to a close?

Mr. Delavekouras:
There was in fact a meeting yesterday of the two negotiators with the Secretary General’s representative, after almost a year’s hiatus for such meetings. First of all it is a positive development that we had this meeting. As you know, Greece is dedicated to the UN process. We believe in this process and we believe that a solution will come from this process. We are satisfied at the fact that everyone now acknowledges – and Mr. Nimetz did so as well in his statements yesterday – the importance of the initiative Greece took for these direct meetings between the two Prime Ministers; meetings that really can create a better climate.

Greece has shown – and Greece has shown this at the negotiating table – that we want to move ahead to a solution and we want to do it now. The leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – which has on the one hand stated that it wants a solution, but has essentially remained stationary – needs to take the necessary steps so that we can reach a solution. As to the next steps, there are no specific decisions at this time. This is in the hands of Mr. Nimetz, who is assessing the course of the negotiations. For our part I would like once again state our preparedness to move ahead at a fast pace to a definitive solution of this issue.

Any other questions?

Ms. Peloni:
I would like to ask you whether you are concerned at the recent moves of the Turkish corvette in the Aegean, given that at the last meeting of the two Prime Ministers, the climate was warm – we are expecting Mr. Davutoglu in Athens. So, how do you assess this activity?

The second question concerns a Wikileak. We don’t know if it is authentic yet. If you are aware of it, according to this document there are talks among European officials regarding the Ankara protocol and the whole bras de fer that played out then. And this document sports that the protocol never existed as a protocol, as a document signed by the Turkish side.

Mr. Delavekouras: We have repeatedly stated at every opportunity, and to the Turkish side as well, that this conduct is not consistent with international law and is a provocation against Greece. These are actions that undermine the climate in our bilateral relations and our efforts to improve these relations. It is clear that as long as such actions continue, there cannot be a substantial improvement in and normalization of Greek-Turkish relations. For our part, and in every case, all the necessary actions are carried out, both operationally and diplomatically, to safeguard the rights and sovereignty of our country, and this needs to be crystal clear to everyone.

Beyond that, however, Turkey also needs to understand that within the framework of good neighbourly relations, within the framework of Turkey’s European course, and also given Turkey’s stated desire to improve its relations with Greece, such conduct is not appropriate. The specific vessel, the “Bodrum”, is still in the Aegean region. As far as I know, at this time it is in Turkish territorial waters. We will have a full report from the Navy Chief of Staff, so that subsequently, when we have assessed its whole course, we can draw up our demarche to the Turkish side.

As regards the dispatch you are referring to, I’m not aware of it. I think these things have been set down. The Ankara protocol and Turkey’s obligations are clear; obligations that Turkey has yet to meet and that are basic preconditions for Turkey’s being able to move ahead on its European course. The European Union has taken a collective decision regarding this, and it is now up to Turkey to meet its commitments.

Mr. Popovic: Can you tell us what the Greek stance is on the political crisis in Skopje at this time, and how you think it might impact the negotiations.

Mr. Delavekouras: FYROM is a candidate for accession to the EU. It is a country that has said that it wants to be a member of the European family, and this means that it needs to respect the principles and values by which the European Union functions. There needs to be political normalcy. There needs to be smooth parliamentary life. There needs to be an independent judicial branch. There needs to be freedom of the press.

These are the basic ingredients that make up the characteristics of a country that wants to become a member of the European Union. We want to see democracy function smoothly in our neighboring country. We are monitoring developments very closely. We are monitoring the political dialogue. But we can’t forget that in the end responsibility lies with the political leadership, because it is they who represent the country to the European Union.

All the reform steps have to be taken to bring FYROM closer to the European Union and, at the same time, I stress once again, our desire and will to stand by FYROM’s side on this course. Our desire to stand by FYROM’s side at every step, in every chapter, on every reform. But this presupposes our being able to find a solution on the name issue. This is clear from the relevant decisions of the European Union. It is a step that needs to be taken by the leadership of our neighboring country.

Mr. Kapoutsis: The demarche you say you’re going to make to the Turkish side regarding the conduct of the Turkish corvette in the Aegean: do you think this is enough to deter Turkey from similar actions in the future?

Mr. Delavekouras: I said, and I say again, that Turkey needs to cease actions that run counter to international law. And Greece, for its part, is doing everything to safeguard its rights and sovereignty. Beyond that, I say again that Turkey is being assessed and Turkey says it wants better relations with Greece. These actions are taken under very serious consideration by us, and they are taken under very serious consideration by the European Union. I want to remind you that this year, for first time, we have a thorough record of all this conduct of violations in the relevant Commission report. Turkey is a candidate country and is being assessed based on its conduct with regard to good neighbourly relations.

Ms. Melisova: I want to ask whether you have a comment on the Foreign Minister’s meetings these days with the two former foreign ministers of two important European countries – Spain and Germany, Messrs. Moratinos and Fischer. Anything on the content …

Mr. Delavekouras:
These are people with whom the Greek government had very close contact. These are people who have handled very important matters. The relationship is very good, and with Mr. Moratinos and with Mr. Fischer there were very good discussions on the current situation in Europe. With Mr. Moratinos, in detail on the Middle East, as well, where he was quite active, and these are talks through which we will maintain contact in the future as well.

Any other questions? Thank you very much.

Top