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Briefing of diplomatic correspondents by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Monday, 04 July 2011

Highlights:

[on stopping the flotilla from sailing for Gaza and the Greek initiative to undertake transport of the humanitarian aid]

  • It is time to take responsibility. It is time to step up so that we can show everyone that at a critical turn of affairs for the Middle East, which is currently in the midst of tensions, there will not be developments that will exacerbate the climate further. Developments that might lead to uncontrolled situations that, first and foremost, endanger the very people who want to participate in this endeavor. I hope we get a response. I hope we will be able to move ahead soon with this initiative Greece is taking; an initiative that will have the support of the international community. Greece’s position corresponds to that which has been expressed by the UN, the Quartet, the European Council and all the countries of the region, and this needs to be perceived.

[on questions regarding a possible change in the Greek stance on the FYROM name issue following the change in political leadership at the Greek Foreign Ministry]

  • Greece’s positions are absolutely firm. Greece has maintained an exceptionally constructive stance in the effort to resolve the name issue. Greece firmly supports the efforts of the Secretary General’s special envoy, Mr. Nimetz, and the negotiation process under the UN, which is the path that can bring us a solution.
  • We cannot say that so far we have seen a substantial response so that we can have progress in the negotiations. We have worked to improve the climate in our bilateral relations, in the belief that it might create better conditions for the resolution of the name issue. The Greek Prime Minister has taken the initiative and met repeatedly with the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and we will continue these efforts, firm in our proposals for the achievement of a solution that will have a geographical qualifier and be used in relation to everyone: erga omnes.

Complete transcript of the briefing (translation):

Mr. Delavekouras: Good morning. I’ll start with the schedules of the Ministry’s political leadership.

Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis will carry out a visit to Berlin on Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 and 6 July 2011. His itinerary includes meeting with German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, the head of the SPD parliamentary group, Mr. Steinmeier and Greens vice-chairman Ozdemir. The Minister will also address the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) on “Reclaiming Europe’s lost values: responsibility and solidarity”.

Mr. Lambrinidis will carry out a working visit to Vienna on Thursday, 7 July, meeting with the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Mr. Spindelegger.

On Sunday, Mr. Lambrinidis will accompany the President of the Republic on a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories – that’s from Sunday through Tuesday.

Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou will brief members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs at 10:00 on Thursday, 7 July, on the results of the recent European Council.

Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis will be in Seoul on Wednesday, 6 July, to participate in the 1st Greek-South Korean Joint Interministerial Committee on Economic Cooperation. Within this framework, Mr. Dollis will be accompanied by a business delegation that will have bilateral meetings with Korean businesspeople, and there will also be a event promoting Greek Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products.

I’m sure we will be talking about this today, but I just wanted to say a couple of words on the humanitarian aid for Gaza. First, I want to inform you that, as you may already know from yesterday’s Foreign Ministry announcement, Greece has undertaken and initiative to transport humanitarian aid by Greek means or in any other appropriate way, in full coordination with the UN and all the interested parties.

To this end, the Prime Minister spoke yesterday with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Abbas, and the Foreign Minister spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. both expressed their support for the Greek initiative, and the UN Secretary General put the competent UN services at Greece’s disposal so that this Greek initiative can be carried out.

At the same time, I want to tell you that tomorrow morning the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General will meet with the Ambassadors to Greece from the Arab countries to brief them on this initiative.

Your questions, please.

R. Maltezou: Do we know exactly when the aid will be sent, when and by what means the humanitarian aid will leave? By ship?

Mr. Delavekouras: We will contact the persons on the vessels that have expressed a willingness to participate in this mission and inform them of the manner in which the humanitarian aid will be collected so that we can then transport it. We will make these contacts, and I hope they bring results.

We sincerely hope that we will be able to move ahead with this initiative. It is an effort that Greece has made in the past. We had consultations with the Republic of Cyprus. We had consultations in the European Union. Greece’s positions on the issue are well known and firm, and we have conveyed them to all interested parties.

[Briefing interrupted by the arrival of the Foreign Minister at the briefing room]

Mr. Lambrinidis: My dear friends, I didn’t want to interrupt the briefing. I will just say a quick hello and I want to assure you that soon – when the “dust has settled” somewhat from developments, and, if you will, from my arrival at the Ministry, due to my being brought up to speed, but especially due to the activity you may have noticed we are trying to carry out on a number of issues – you will see me more frequently. I know that a number of you have requested this, and we will do it. And I apologize that I haven’t been able to speak with you up close yet.

Now, as you know, I am leaving for Germany. Gregory will tell you about yesterday’s issue, regarding the Gaza issue, which is very important to us: the fact that we took an “aggressive” diplomatic initiative on a global level so that we could send multiple messages, and obviously in order to support the humanitarian aid effort.

In Germany – and in Austria, where I will be going afterwards – we will try to emphasise the Greek presence in European countries with which we are linked and with whom we have been collaborating as partners for years now and to a great extent today. It is a fact that public opinion in these countries, for well-known reasons, does not support, to the extent that it should, perhaps, the joint European effort we are making. The “Greek problem” has its purely national aspect, but it also has a European aspect.

The effort I have been making all this all these years – including at the European Parliament – is an effort that produced results there. I hope that we will be able to manage this in the same way from this position. I don’t want to exaggerate. One meeting with Mr. Westerwelle – no matter how good it is, and I hope it is good – is not going to change what Germans think about Greeks from one day to the next. But it is extremely important that one focus on this now.

Diplomatically, this is the “front line” for us. The letter the Prime Minister sent to Mr. Barroso is something that the government has been promoting for months and we at the European Parliament also tried to promote from our bastions while I was there.

It’s a difficult choreography, a “ballet”. Sometimes it has to be the right moment to promote certain things, no matter how else you may have been promoting them for some time now. But the emphasis on European cooperation for the development of Greece and Europe is a prime issue for us, and I would like to believe that this is also true for the Germans.

Thank you very much. Excuse me for interrupting your briefing, and I promise we will get together soon. Goodbye.

Mr. Delavekouras: So, we were saying that we believe that there must be an improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza. We believe that it is necessary for the peace talks to start up again, because we need to be able to reach a solution that will allow for the creation of a Palestinian state that will live in peace and conditions of security next to Israel. These are all firm positions of Greece, and they are also expressed in this initiative, as well as in the consistent policy exercised by Greece on the Middle East.

It is time to take responsibility. It is time to step up so that we can show everyone that at a critical turn of affairs for the Middle East, which is currently in the midst of tensions, there will not be developments that will exacerbate the climate further. Developments that might lead to uncontrolled situations that, first and foremost, endanger the very people who want to participate in this endeavor.

I hope we get a response. I hope we will be able to move ahead soon with this initiative Greece is taking; an initiative that will have the support of the international community. Greece’s position corresponds to that which has been expressed by the UN, the Quartet, the European Council and all the countries of the region, and this needs to be perceived.

So I hope that we can come to an understanding and carry out this mission, which will benefit the region as a whole.

M. Rigou: How likely is it that the goal will be achieved, given that the activists seem determined to break the blockade – i.e., that this is their objective, rather than the provision of humanitarian aid?

Second, given that you referred to the Quartet, how do you comment on the fact that in the end there will be a meeting, which was initially predicated – due to the U.S. stance – on the negotiations’ reopening?

Mr. Delavekouras: I can’t answer you on the first issue you raised. I wish I could. Our hope is that we will be able to move ahead. That is why we are going to contact the heads of all the vessels to explain how we can arrange the transport of aid from Greece. That is why we conferred with the UN, and we have already moved ahead to look at the operational dimension of the matter. I hope there is a corresponding stance of responsibility from the other side, so that we can succeed in this endeavor.

As for the Quartet meeting, I think it is a very important development. We believe that all the sides need right now to emphasize the reopening of the peace talks that have been stalled, because that is the path that can really lead to a solution.

That is why we need the international community – and the European Union, within itself – to speak with a single voice. We need consultations. We need good will.

It is undeniable that the situation has currently deteriorated on the regional level. The developments we have in each country may be unique in every case, but they also create an overall environment of instability, and that is why I believe our having positive developments on the Middle East problem would benefit stability in the region as a whole.

C. Poulidou: The Minister mentioned an “aggressive” initiative, and “aggressive diplomatic initiative”. Where did you see the “aggressive”, Mr. Spokesman? It is clearly a defensive initiative aimed at absorbing the previous initiative of the NGOs. That’s my first question.

Second, will this be carried out regardless of the response? That is, will you carry out this mission with your own means, with your own humanitarian aid, if there is no response to your request? And the third question is, are you in contact with Cyprus on this?

Mr. Delavekouras: This initiative, which is fully in line with Greece’s longstanding positions, which I referred to earlier, is an aggressive diplomatic initiative and a positive diplomatic initiative. Through it, we want to provide a way out of a situation that has potential dangers.

First of all, for the people who want to participate in this. We cannot ignore the fact that the whole of the international community holds a stance discouraging the carrying out of this operation. We cannot ignore Israel’s stated intention to stop it from happening by whatever means necessary. Greece believes that we need to move ahead on the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

Greece believes – and has shown this – in the improvement of the humanitarian situation. Greece provides humanitarian aid and is already working with the UN and will continue to do so. What we expect from everyone – at a critical moment – is a responsible stance.

That is why we expect that the teams who want to move ahead with this endeavor will choose understanding, so that we can really achieve the desired results and at the same time protect everyone from a situation that jeopardizes their own safety.

As to our conferring with the Republic of Cyprus, I referred earlier to the fact that Greece and Cyprus had presented to the EU a joint initiative for their undertaking the transport of humanitarian aid.

Since then, we have had a lot of developments. We had the opening of the Rafah crossing, we have had a change in the measures taken by Israel, we have more intensive activity on the part of the UNRWA, which is the UN organ that has for 60 years now fought daily to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories and paid a high price in order to improve the situation.

Similar discussions also took place during Mr. Lambrinidis’s recent visit to the Republic of Cyprus, in his meetings with the President and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, and we will naturally continue to be in contact with the Republic of Cyprus.

Right now, however, we are prepared to move ahead immediately with this initiative, providing Greek means and other appropriate channels so that within the procedural framework set by the UN – and specifically the Secretary General of the UN, in the letter he sent to the Greek Prime Minister – we can transport this humanitarian aid.

L. Blaveris: I wanted to ask this, Mr. Spokesman: You called the Greek initiative aggressive, but I think it will cause a lot of problems between Greece and the Palestinians, who are already divided, and Hamas issued a relevant announcement yesterday.

Beyond this fact, I would like you to tell me what port you intend to take the aid to: a port in Gaza, or another Israeli port? And I would like you to tell me, on another issue, what news we have from the Greek diplomatic mission in Libya, which is in Benghazi, and whether we will reopen our Tripoli embassy. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, let me clarify that we are in ongoing contact with the Palestinian Authority. The Prime Minister talked to President Abbas yesterday, and Mr. Abbas expressed his support for the Greek initiative.

Our relations with the Palestinian Authority are traditional, are friendly, are warm, close and productive. And this is being proven today. And that is why we are working closely with the Palestinian Authority. The split between the Palestinians is in fact a very important dimension of the situation in the Middle East, and that is why we noted the importance of the agreement in principle between Fatah and Hamas to form a joint, unity government.

These talks haven’t been successful yet. But we believe that the Palestinians’ finding their path together again is a very important parameter for the progress of the peace process.

So, I say again, to avoid any misunderstanding: Greece will continue to have close contacts with the Palestinian Authority, because they are based on friendly relations and I don’t believe any shadow is being cast on these relations by the specific situation that we are managing with regard to the flotilla.

As for Benghazi, Greece is participating actively in all of the efforts being made so that we can have a political solution to the crisis in Libya. Greece will also participate, as in the previous instances, in the next meeting of the Libya Contact Group, which is slated for 15 July, in Istanbul.

We will contribute there with ideas and give an account of the efforts we are making, but we believe that the UN should always play the leading role, and specifically the UN Secretary General’s representative, Mr. Khatib, who has done very important work so far.

We hope we can find the points of political convergence that will allow for a halt to the bloodshed and clashes, so that, first of all, all of the Libyan people can be protected.

We will continue to make our contacts as we have done to date, and this has been made much easier by the physical presence of the Foreign Ministry in Benghazi, through the team we sent there. What we want to be able to do is to contribute to the best of our ability to the finding of a solution.

We will continue our contact with the rebels and see what the next step are in our relations. And beyond that, I would like to hope that we will see progress in the coming time.

L. Blaveris: What about the ports?

Mr. Delavekouras: Regarding the ports and the practical arrangements in general for the transporting of humanitarian aid, what I can tell you at this time is that we are in consultations with the UN so that we can follow the procedures provided for: the established channels that exist.

But we will have to wait until these arrangements are completed to make the relevant announcements, because the discussion is under way.

S. Sourmelidis: Are you in contact with Israel?

Mr. Delavekouras: We are in contact with Israel. We are aware of Israel’s positions, which in any case have been made public. The positions taken by Greece are positions of the Greek government and positions of responsibility.

Right now – and I want to repeat this because a lot is being written in the press that does not correspond to the reality of the situation – Greece, with all the history it has in diplomatically supporting the efforts to find a solution in the Middle East, on the Palestinian problem specifically, the support of the Palestinian people all these years, is taking a responsible stance and confronting a specific situation, and this situation says that there is immediate danger to human lives from participating in this endeavor.

This isn’t coming out of nowhere. It is something that comes from experience, and I think we all remember the tragic events we saw last year. This region doesn’t need this right now, and that is why we are making aggressive proposals, positive proposals, that can provide a solution, bring results and avoid tensions.

Because what is most important for the region in such a sensitive state of affairs is to have stability, which is no easy matter and we don’t need to exacerbate the situation.

M. Topalova: What level are the contacts with Israel at?

Mr. Delavekouras: On all levels. We have regular contacts on all levels with the Israeli government and with all the other interested parties.

S. Sourmelidis: I would like to ask what went wrong in the contacts with Moscow for there to be no visit to Moscow by the Minister.

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, let me say that there was a phone conversation between the Greek and Russian Foreign Ministers on Friday, during which, in a warm climate, they had the opportunity to discuss our bilateral cooperation, the prospects for further deepening of that cooperation, strengthening the content of this cooperation and the institutional and contractual framework governing the relations between the two countries within the framework of the joint programme adopted by the two countries for 2009-2012, which will continue along the same lines.

There are in fact consultations under way to arrange a meeting, a visit of the Greek Foreign Minister to Moscow. So far we haven’t concluded on a date. We had some initial dates that it was judged were not the most appropriate at this time. The two Ministers discussed the possibility of a meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September; they will both be there and we will look at the next steps in our cooperation.

Greece’s firm will is to pursue a deepening and enhancement of relations with Russia, and we know from the Russian side that they have a similar will. We will proceed to the next steps in our relations based on this very strong foundation.

M. Kourbela: Mr. Spokesman, I would like to ask you how close we are to an agreement on energy forms with Germany. I mean, of course, on renewable energy sources.

I would also like to ask whether the recent visit to Greece by representatives of the German tourism sector produced any specific results. A delegation of Germans came to Greece. They were representatives of Germany’s tourism economy, and they toured Greece and are interested in tourism cooperation issues and possibly in investments.

Mr. Delavekouras: Both of the issues you mentioned concern our bilateral cooperation and have been included in the framework we have developed with Germany for more intensive bilateral cooperation. This framework dates from the Greek Prime Minister’s visit to the German capital and his meeting at that time with Ms. Merkel.

Since then there have been meetings on the governmental level in both Athens and Berlin, with the participation of Ministers from both countries, with the aim of further developing this cooperation in specific sectors, including green energy, and the potential for investments in the energy and tourism sectors.

I should also tell you that right now the Greek tourism product is truly competitive, it is attractive, and one of the dimensions of the Minister’s visit to Germany and our presence in Germany is precisely to promote Greece’s tourism product, because it is a very important parameter in the effort our country is making to put our economy on its feet again.

We want to have a good year this year, and we believe that we can have a good year this year. There may be some sensationalism to the contrary, but the fact is that Greece’s tourism product remains at this time one of the most attractive in our region, due to the developments we have in our wider region.

A. Athansopoulos: Mr. Spokesman, the UN Secretary General’s statement discouraging the sending of humanitarian aid via the flotilla to Gaza, as well as the Quartet statement, if I’m not mistaken, talked of discouragement.

You went ahead to prohibition. A lot was written, a lot was said publicly and in private. I’m not asking you to judge what was said in private or publicly. Somebody boarded these vessels. Did they find anything? Did they find anything dangerous that might endanger the lives of the people who wanted to go to Gaza? That’s one question.

I also want you to tell me how attractive the product we saw last week in Syntagma Square was, and the extent to which this product is taken under consideration by German tourists who want to come to Greece. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: Starting with the flotilla issue. We have said what position the international community as a whole has taken on this issue. Greece – the Foreign Ministry – in a timely manner, on 22 June, issued an announcement urging those who wanted to participate in this endeavor not to, because there was danger to their safety, first of all, and to shipping.

In spite of this, there were some who persisted. All the countries in our region have maintained a similar stance. I am referring to Cyprus, Italy, France – similar decisions have been taken. It was the Greek government’s position of responsibility to proceed to this step, precisely because there was persistence from certain groups of Greek and foreign citizens – in spite of the warnings and the measures taken by the coast guard – to move ahead with this endeavor.

I want to return to an example that has been handled by the Citizen Protection Ministry, with the Coast Guard spokesman taking a stance. We have to say this.

The U.S.-flagged vessel that attempted to leave Greece had received specific advisement regarding the seaworthiness of the vessel and done nothing. It also ignored the coast guard’s instructions; instructions founded on national and international legislation – the safety regulations that exist – and tried to leave port.

As it should, the port authority asked the vessel to return. But we have to look a the substance of the matter, and the substance of the matter is that right now there is a real danger that we have to face. We have Israel’s stated intention to keep this endeavor from being carried out, including through the use of violence.

We can’t just ignore this. That is, we cannot just ignore the danger to the people themselves who are participating in such an endeavor. And that is why there is this clear position from Greece on the enforcement of the laws. And at the same time there is a substantial initiative for conveying the humanitarian aid to its destination.

With regard to the tourism issue, impressions are being created and that is why I said earlier that we have to stop them. Greece is an exceptional tourism destination. Everyone living in this country knows that. And it is important that we be able to communicate this to international public opinion, and we can do this if we all try. And this in one of the dimensions of the Foreign Ministry’s overall activities.

P. Papathanasiou: Mr. Spokesman, to go a step further on tourism, I would like to ask this: Hasn’t the unprecedented violence and use of chemical deterrents and intimidation against protestors that we saw last week used by the government – although the responsibility, naturally, does not rest with the Foreign Ministry, and there were victims, even colleagues from abroad, fellow reporters – cost our country so far the outcry in the international news media; it has cost a number of travel advisories and many allegations made to Amnesty International and other human rights organizations that our country will be called upon to reply to at some point. I would like you to tell me how you are thinking of rehabilitating the damaged image of the Hellenic Republic abroad. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: Before I start, I want to say that as the Foreign Ministry spokesperson I do not comment on domestic developments. In any case, however, I will say that this is not the whole picture of Greece, and what we need to do is show the other Greece, the Greece that is working hard right now to emerge from the crisis; the Greece that has met its obligations and achieved specific results; the Greece that is a safe tourism destination.

We are working and will continue working constantly on showing this to international public opinion. It’s not just the Foreign Ministry that is making this effort, but, as you know, the Foreign Minister himself, from the day he took up his duties, asked all of our embassies to leave nothing unanswered and to point everywhere to the effort to rehabilitate the country’s image.

We will not stop making this effort, because it is a necessary component in the more general effort towards giving Greece strong foundations to move ahead on once again.

L. Blaveris: Mr. Spokesman, a clarification on something you said earlier. You referred to 22 June, I think, when the Foreign Ministry issued an announcement warning against the effort to take people, activists, to Gaza with humanitarian aid.

You also said that other countries in the region issued similar announcements. You mentioned Italy, France, etc. The question that arises may be naïve, but it arouses my curiosity. Why, in the end, didn’t they listen to the Greek warning and start this operation here, while we don’t see similar actions in other countries in the region? Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, I want to clarify that the operation isn’t starting from Greece – Greece isn’t the only departure point of this flotilla. There are vessels in other countries. But it is true that most of the vessels are in Greece.

This is cause for general concern as to why certain circles are trying at this time to distort Greece’s positions – which have been clear and consistent for many years now – and what Greece has strived for. Why, that is, are there certain circles trying to present Greece with a face other than its real one and distort even the announcements we have issued, which are aimed first and foremost at, and guided by, the safety of those who intend to participate in such an endeavor.

This is what I am saying, and I agree with your observation that all the countries in the region, the whole international community, maintains the same stance. Greece is going a step further and saying that it is prepared to undertake the transporting of the humanitarian aid.

So, we have to look at the final substance of the matter. For us, the substance is to have stability in the region, to be able to move ahead with the negotiations on the Middle East issue – negotiations that will give us a solution, that are the answer to all the problems – and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

A. Athanasopoulos: I just want to add, when do you think – since what happened has happened – these people will agree to talk to the Foreign Ministry so that the humanitarian aid for Gaza can be organized?

That is, on the once hand you prohibit them from sailing – rightly or wrongly, it’s not my job to judge – and now you are asking them to talk to you about how the aid will get there, along with them. That is, is it perhaps the case that the goal is not to take the humanitarian aid there, but not to go at all?

Mr. Delavekouras: Greece’s goal – the goal of Greece’s initiative – is to transport humanitarian aid. I can’t answer you as to whether there are other goals and other expediencies from elsewhere.

But what I’m telling you is the sincere will of Greece, and Greece is willing to provide the means, to make the arrangements, to cover the diplomatic end to carry this through. I hope there will be a correspondingly responsible stance from the others so that we can move ahead with this effort. I hope it happens. But it also needs to be clear that there are laws, and these laws will be enforced.

E. Kolliopoulou: I would like to ask about the extent to which the intensive cooperation since last year between Greece and Israel, following Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Athens, has impacted the Greek government’s current stance.

Second, why did Greece not go to the UN when Israel said it would use force? Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: I’ll start by saying that the flotilla issue cannot determine Greece’s relations with Israel or any other country. It is a specific issue that we are confronting in the appropriate manner, within the framework I have already set out for you.

Greek-Israeli relations have improved significantly. We had a number of high-level political meetings because we believe it is mutually beneficial. These are relations to which we want to give content that will not reflect Greece’s or Israel’s relations with any third country.

Precisely because we think that our countries have complementary interests and have much to gain from cooperating – that is why this cooperation has been productive.

We will continue along the same lines, and we will always inform Israel – as we have done in this case – of our positions, which do not always coincide with those of Israel, as is understandable. We believe that thanks to the better relations between Greece and Israel, we can contribute even more to the overall efforts being made to find a solution on the Middle East issue and have greater stability in our region.

Greece’s relations with Israel are not impacted in any way, and neither are Greece’s relations with the Arab world. These are old, traditional relations of friendship and trust, and we have gained them through our consistent stance throughout these years.

We believe that the fact that Greece can talk so directly and in conditions of trust with everyone strengthens our ability to assist progress towards the political stability of the region as well.

As for last year’s actions and the use of violence, our positions on that are well known as well. Last year, Greece clearly condemned the use of violence. What we are trying to do this year is avert a situation in which we again have tension and the use of violence.

This shouldn’t happen. We can avert it and we can find ways – like the initiative Greece is taking – to transport the humanitarian aid as determined by the UN framework, as the Secretary General describes it in his letter to the Greek Prime Minister.

C. Kapoutsis: If Hamas essentially doesn’t accept the Greek initiative, the aid, the humanitarian aid as the Greek government plans it, can you handle it?

If they tell you that under these conditions, we, as Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, don’t want humanitarian aid. Can you confront this? Because I think it will be a major diplomatic defeat for Greece if this happens.

Mr. Delavekouras: Under no circumstances can Greece’s sincere will to provide a substantial way out of a situation that involves dangers for everyone be construed as a diplomatic defeat.

That is why the Prime Minister spoke yesterday with the President of the Palestinian Authority, who expressed his support. That is why we are conferring with the UN, and our goal is to get the humanitarian aid to its destination. These are our collocutors in the effort we are making.

S. Ristovska: Mr. Spokesman, I would like you to give us some details on the demarche the Foreign Ministry sent to Montenegro. That’s one question.

My second question: Now, with the new Minister, is there a change in stance on the name issue, or are the same red lines in place? Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: At the SEECP Ministerial, there were cases of the use of a name other than that internationally recognized by the UN, and for this reason a demarche was made to the Montenegrin side, who were the hosts, regarding the need always to use the name that is internationally accepted, as determined by the resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

As to the change in political leadership at the Foreign Ministry, Greece’s positions are absolutely firm.

Greece has maintained an exceptionally constructive stance in the effort to resolve the name issue. Greece firmly supports the efforts of the Secretary General’s special envoy, Mr. Nimetz, and the negotiation process under the UN, which is the path that can bring us a solution.

We cannot say that so far we have seen a substantial response so that we can have progress in the negotiations. We have worked to improve the climate in our bilateral relations, in the belief that it might create better conditions for the resolution of the name issue.

The Greek Prime Minister has taken the initiative and met repeatedly with the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and we will continue these efforts, firm in our proposals for the achievement of a solution that will have a geographical qualifier and be used in relation to everyone: erga omnes.

This is Greece’s firm position. It is a constructive stance that can bring results, and we are waiting to see – at long last, following the elections in Skopje – a response from the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

M. Kourbela: Where do we stand on the posting of a Greek to the Secretariat General of the Union for the Mediterranean, where we have been allotted a position in the energy sector – a position that hasn’t been covered yet?

Mr. Delavekouras: Yes, I think the selection process has yet to be completed. As soon as the decision is finalized, it will be announced, of course.

Thank you very much.

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