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Briefing of diplomatic correspondents by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Wednesday, 04 May 2011

Highlights:

[on the reorganization of the Foreign Ministry]


· The Foreign Minister has assigned the task to a team that is working under the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General and includes Ministry personnel from all the branches, and they are preparing an initial draft of a plan.

· This project has already begun, and in a very open manner: a webpage has been set up for all Foreign Ministry personnel, who can submit their proposals, their ideas – or discuss proposals that have already been made – based on an outline of topic areas that will be affected in the reorganization of the Ministry. We are also gathering information from other Foreign Ministries that have made similar efforts towards reorganization, because, as you can see, the Foreign Ministry is a living organism that must adapt to developments.

· The Central Service organogram is being discussed – the prospects for its reorganization – as is Greece’s presence abroad, though not on a purely financial basis of curtailed spending. Rather, the primary concern is the optimum representation of Greece, bearing in mind the developments we have in the international environment.

[on Syria]

· Unfortunately, we see that in Syria we continue to have violence against demonstrators seeking reforms. We have condemned the violence and we have said that the reply to the demands of the Syrian people must be precisely these reforms; this process of opening up society and democratizing.

· Regarding the Greeks in Syria, our embassy is in constant contact with the community and with the enterprises active in the country. Naturally, we will monitor developments very closely, we will continue to be in contact with everyone, so that should the need arise, we will be able to provide assistance.

[on the Hamas-Fatah agreement]

· We have followed this development very carefully, because it is an important development – not just for intra-Palestinian understanding, but also for the Middle East issue in general. We will have to look at the details; we will have to look at what the next steps are.

· In any case, however, we consider that in order to reach a viable solution on the Palestinian problem, in order for there to be real peace – peace that provides for the creation of a Palestinian state that will exist in peace beside Israel; an Israel with the security it is seeking – we need to have intra-Palestinian understanding.

· We consider the efforts that have been made by Egypt to be very important, and that is why Mr. Droutsas contacted his Egyptian counterpart, Mr. Elaraby, to congratulate him on the efforts he is making.

[on the Cyprus issue]

· The Foreign Minister had the opportunity to meet recently with the UN Secretary General, and when we were in Cyprus recently, he met with President Christofias, who briefed him on the course of the talks.

· The leader of the Turkish Cypriot community continues to present reactionary positions that have their point of reference in the Denktash era and that give no ground for optimism about progress in the future – certainly not with the stance being maintained by the Turkish Cypriot side.

· At the same time, we see the Turkish side trying in communication terms to show good will and create impressions of movement on the Cyprus issue, while in fact no progress is being seen at the negotiating table.

· Turkey controls occupied Cyprus. That is a fact. It controls occupied Cyprus with settlers, with occupation forces. So Turkey is responsible for the lack of progress right now in the negotiations. This has to change.

· We will continue to support President Christofias in his efforts, which are sincere and substantial efforts aimed at progress. We will continue to support the process. We will be in close contact with the UN, but it needs to be clear who is responsible for the lack of progress.

Complete transcript of the briefing (translation):

Mr. Delavekouras: Good afternoon. I’ll start with the Ministers’ schedules for the coming week.

At 12:00 today, 4 May 2011, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will host a luncheon at the Foreign Ministry for the South Korean President’s Personal Envoy, Ms. Park, and at 13:25 today, Mr. Droutsas will be received by the President of the Republic, Mr. Papoulias.

On Thursday, 5 May, Mr. Droutsas will travel to Rome to attend the meeting there of the Contact Group on Libya, and on Friday, 6 May, he will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, to participate in a Forum on “Central and Eastern Europe’s transition and Change in the Middle East”.

On Thursday, 12 May, Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou will be in Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with the Polish European Affairs Minister, ahead of Poland’s upcoming EU Presidency.

Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis will be in Parliament tomorrow for the ratification of a Greek-Caribbean Memorandum of Cooperation and the 2006 International Tropical Timber Agreement.

Mr. Kouvelis will be in Cyprus on Friday, 6 May, for the official opening of the 36th Cyprus International Fair and for bilateral meetings.

On Monday and Tuesday, 9 and 10 May, Mr. Kouvelis will be in Istanbul to participate in the 4th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries.

On Wednesday, 11 May, Mr. Kouvelis will meet at his office with the head of the Russian BSEC business council, ahead of Russia’s upcoming BSEC chairmanship.

At 12:00 on Thursday, 12 May, Mr. Kouvelis will present Thanasis Niarchos’s book “Constantinople” at an event at the Foreign Ministry’s Kranidiotis Amphitheatre.

On Friday, 13 May, Mr. Kouvelis will be in Thessaloniki to address the 4th Conference on Innovation & Entrepreneurship on “Green Technologies: Energy, Transport, Agricultural Production”.

Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis will travel to Rome on Wednesday, 11 May, to participate in a ceremony marking the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodios, which is attended every year by high-ranking delegations from Orthodox countries.

Within the framework of his visit, Mr. Dollis will meet with his counterpart at the Vatican, as well as with other Vatican officials, on issues of Greek-Vatican bilateral relations.

Finally, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General, Ambassador Zepos, will be in Budapest on 6 and 7 May to participate in an informal meeting of Secretaries General of EU member state Foreign Ministries. This meeting will look at EU foreign policy issues and organization of foreign ministries in light of the development of the EEAS.

That’s it for announcements. Your questions, please.

M. Rigou: Is there anything on how the process is developing at The Hague on the FYROM issue?

Mr. Delavekouras: Right now we are waiting. The process is continuing and we are awaiting the Court’s announcement as to when it will issue its judgement. In the meantime, however, the teams from both countries are at the Court’s disposal should additional data or anything else be required.

M. Rigou: Do we have anything on the climate, how things are taking shape?

Mr. Delavekouras: No. We have said repeatedly that we fully respect the Court procedure and we will wait for the judgement to be issued.

A. Athanasopoulos:
Do you have any information to give us on the visit to Istanbul for the Council of Europe meeting? That is, possible meetings to be set up, etc.?

My second question: Is there anything new – within the framework of the formulation of the mid-range financial adaptation programme – for further cuts of missions abroad or other kinds of cuts at the Foreign Ministry?

Mr. Delavekouras
: On your first question, the Minister’s schedule has not been formulated yet, and nor has his participation been announced officially. It is next week, if I’m not mistaken: 10 and 11 May. In principle, the Minister intends to participate, so a corresponding programme will be drawn up and announced in the coming days.

On your second question, it must be said that a major effort is under way to reorganize the Ministry overall. The Foreign Minister has assigned the task to a team that is working under the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General and includes Ministry personnel from all the branches, and they are preparing an initial draft of a plan. This project has already begun, and in a very open manner: a webpage has been set up for all Foreign Ministry personnel, who can submit their proposals, their ideas – or discuss proposals that have already been made – based on an outline of topic areas that will be affected in the reorganization of the Ministry.

We are also gathering information from other Foreign Ministries that have made similar efforts towards reorganization, because, as you can see, the Foreign Ministry is a living organism that must adapt to developments.

Within this framework, the Central Service organogram is being discussed – the prospects for its reorganization – as is Greece’s presence abroad, though not on a purely financial basis of curtailed spending. Rather, the primary concern is the optimum representation of Greece, bearing in mind the developments we have in the international environment.

Within this framework, we cannot rule out the suspension of operation of some missions abroad, or the opening of other missions if deemed necessary.

This process is under way and we expect a completed initial draft plan this summer. When this plan has been discussed by the political leadership, the administrative leadership and the Foreign Ministry’s branches, it will move ahead towards adoption in the coming time.

N. Meletis: Won’t there be public consultation?

Mr. Delavekouras
: Naturally. The whole process provided for will follow.

C. Poulidou
: [off microphone]

Mr. Delavekouras: As I said, we want to have the first draft of a plan during the summer, so that in the autumn the legal process can be started for the completion of the new Foreign Ministry statutes.

A. Fourlis: Whether, as we understand, the Foreign Ministry is conferring with the Environment Ministry on the issue of exploration for petroleum deposits for future extraction, and, additionally, as we understand, the understanding beyond the region of the Ionian where there is a delimited continental shelf with Italy, as regards Crete, there is to be a theoretical provision based on the thinking of the median line, the theory of the median line, I would like to ask whether the Foreign Ministry is having the same thought for the Aegean and whether the Environment Ministry intends – I assume in consultation with the Foreign Ministry, again – to move ahead to in a second phase to similar moves in the Aegean based on the theory of the median line.

Mr. Delavekouras: As you know, and as has been announced, the Foreign Ministry – and this is within the competency of the Environment Ministry, so I have to refer you there for the details – preparation is under way right now of the legislative framework for setting up a state agency that will undertake the management of hydrocarbons for the Greek state.

The Deputy Environment Minister has given an interview on this, announcing that in the coming time a new draft of this law will be submitted to the Cabinet for debate, so that the process can then move forward. Beyond that, as you can see, this creates a very important framework that we have not had up until now in Greece, enabling Greece to exploit its mineral wealth.

This is self-evident and will be carried out in collaboration with all the Ministries, based on the criteria set by the Environment Ministry and founded on research and studies that have been carried out to identify areas of interest.

N. Meletis: I would like a statement from you on whether the removal of Consulate General Kamarinos from Korçë is linked in any way to the attacks from nationalistic groups in Albania and from the Chams organizations for alleged anti-Albanian propaganda, simply because they dared to refer – at an Omonoia anniversary event – to the rights of rights of Northern Epirus Greeks, as well as to the Greek presence in Korçë, which I assume no one questions.

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, let’s be clear on the fact that no one has been removed from their post. There is the regular cycle of postings that is in effect for the whole of the Foreign Ministry, and it is within that framework that a change of personnel is taking place, as happens at all of our missions abroad.

Beyond that, it is a fact that in Albania an increase in nationalistic rhetoric has been seen in some political circles; an increase in such rhetoric that is not consistent with the level of Greek-Albanian relations or the outlook for those relations: the efforts of our two countries to become partners within the European Union.

Naturally, all of this is being monitored very closely by our side, just as we are very closely monitoring the local elections that are to be held in Albania in a few days. And Albania is under obligation – not just to its citizens, but also to the European Union – to carry out these elections peacefully and smoothly.

Beyond that, Greece wants constant improvement in relations with Albania, and we have shown this. We are appealing to the government and the political forces in Albania, because we want to have a sincere dialogue, to have improved relations, and to be able to cooperate, as we have done in the past, so that we can help Albania toward its European perspective. But it is also clear that for this to happen, there are clear prerequisites from the EU.

There needs to be respect for human and minority rights, and this is an issue that is very important to Greece. We are very sensitive on this and are monitoring it very, very closely.

N. Meletis: I asked specifically about the views that Mr. Kamarinos has expressed. Whether, because the protests of the Albanians and the official protest took place about a month and a half ago, and because about a month and a half later we see his transfer taking place. That is, do you share this concern that existed regarding the protests from the Albanian side regarding the positions expressed by Mr. Kamarinos? That’s what I asked.

Mr. Delavekouras: I have taken a position on the specific incident in the past and said that it is an incident that was made much of by the news media. The substance and the policy of Greece is what I said regarding the issue of the Greek minority in Albania. I repeat that Mr. Kamarinos is serving his tour as provided for and will get his transfer within the framework of the round of transfers being scheduled by the Foreign Ministry. So, there can be no such issue as the one you mentioned.

N. Meletis: There is no issue of disagreement with the positions expressed by Mr. Kamarinos.

Mr. Delavekouras: There is no issue of the Consul General’s being removed.

N. Meletis: Due to the views he expressed.

Mr. Delavekouras: I say again, for the third time: Mr. Kamarinos is completing his tour normally in Albania. Next.

P. Papathanasiou: Mr. Spokesman, I would like a comment, first of all, on the ongoing barbarism with which the Assad regime is suppressing demonstrations in Syria, and, second, on the extent to which you are in contact with the competent authorities regarding the situation of Greek citizens in Syria. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras
: Unfortunately, we see that in Syria we continue to have violence against demonstrators seeking reforms. We have condemned the violence and we have said that the reply to the demands of the Syrian people must be precisely these reforms; this process of opening up society and democratizing.

Regarding the Greeks in Syria, our embassy is in constant contact with the community and with the enterprises active in the country. Naturally, we will monitor developments very closely, we will continue to be in contact with everyone, so that should the need arise, we will be able to provide assistance. We saw that even today there have been reports of new arrests of demonstrators. We believe that this cannot lead anywhere. What is needed right now is a genuine reply to the demands of the people, and this genuine reply can be none other than reforms.

A. Voudouri: The French Foreign Minister stated that France wants the EU to impose sanctions on the Assad government, and he wants to act together with the other European partners of France. What is Athens’ stance on this?

Mr. Delavekouras: The European Union has already decided to ban sales of weapons and materiel to Syria, and a debate is currently under way regarding possible sanctions. We are participating in these discussions. We will have to see the common decisions taken by the EU. We believe that in this case the EU needs to speak in a single voice, and it is clear, as the EU has already stated following meetings on the level of Foreign Ministers, that the violence we are seeing in Syria is condemnable and must stop immediately.

C. Poulidou: What do you have to say regarding the Fatah-Hamas agreement, given that I see Israel is pressing Lady Ashton hard to set conditions before recognizing the agreement?

Mr. Delavekouras: We have followed this development very carefully, because it is an important development – not just for intra-Palestinian understanding, but also for the Middle East issue in general. We will have to look at the details; we will have to look at what the next steps are. This agreement is to be signed today.

In any case, however, we consider that in order to reach a viable solution on the Palestinian problem, in order for there to be real peace – peace that provides for the creation of a Palestinian state that will exist in peace beside Israel; an Israel with the security it is seeking – we need to have intra-Palestinian understanding.

We consider the efforts that have been made by Egypt to be very important, and that is why Mr. Droutsas contacted his Egyptian counterpart, Mr. Elaraby, to congratulate him on the efforts he is making.

Beyond that, as you can see, we will have to look at the details and we will continue to participate actively in all of the discussions bearing on the Middle East peace process and intra-Palestinian understanding in cooperation with Egypt, as well.

A. Voudouri:
You said that the UN Secretary General will participate in Sofia. Whether there is to be a meeting between Mr. Droutsas and the Secretary General. And with reference to that, on his recent visit to Cyprus, Mr. Droutsas expressed concern at the positions of Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu. I imagine that you express the same concerns regarding the voices pressing for a solution by the end of the year and for a five-day conference. Has Athens changed its stance on the five-day conference? Are you coordinating with Cyprus? Are there any preconditions for this taking place?

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, let me say that the Foreign Minister had the opportunity to meet recently with the UN Secretary General. We don’t have a meeting scheduled at this time, but I can’t rule out a meeting being set up on the spot. But in his recent meeting, he had the opportunity to discuss developments on the Cyprus issue, and when we were in Cyprus recently, he met with President Christofias, who briefed him on the course of the talks.

What Mr. Droutsas expressed is a serious concern at the fact that, first of all, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community continues to present reactionary positions that have their point of reference in the Denktash era and that give no ground for optimism about progress in the future – certainly not with the stance being maintained by the Turkish Cypriot side.

At the same time, we see the Turkish side trying in communication terms to show good will and create impressions of movement on the Cyprus issue, while in fact no progress is being seen at the negotiating table.

That is why we think that we need to focus on the substance of the matter, and not on PR considerations, as we have said before. In other words, Turkey needs to change its stance. Turkey controls occupied Cyprus. That is a fact. It controls occupied Cyprus with settlers, with occupation forces. So Turkey is responsible for the lack of progress right now in the negotiations. This has to change.

Beyond that, a conference is among the proposals that have been submitted by the President of the Republic of Cyprus; a substantial conference, however, that will help the process; a conference on the external aspects: guarantees and the security of the Republic of Cyprus. That is precisely why we cannot talk on the PR level being suggested by Turkey: a conference at a time when there is no progress on the substance of the negotiations.

We will continue to support President Christofias in his efforts, which are sincere and substantial efforts aimed at progress. We will continue to support the process. We will be in close contact with the UN, but it needs to be clear who is responsible for the lack of progress, and we hope this will change.

S. Ristovska: Mr. Spokesman, I would like your comment on the meeting Foreign Minister Milososki had with Ban Ki-moon and Mr. Nimetz in New York.

Mr. Delavekouras:
FYROM is in the run-up to elections. This, as you can see, does not allow potential for progress on the name issue. Greece has said repeatedly – and it has shown it – that we are ready to take the step; we are ready to reach an agreement. Greece has submitted positive, constructive proposals; balanced proposals that can give us a just solution satisfactory to both sides.

We are waiting for the FYROM leadership to respond, and we are waiting for the government that is elected in the upcoming elections in FYROM to come to the negotiating table with real will, because we really believe that we can reach a solution soon, provided there is political will from the Skopje side.

And as soon as that happens, there will obviously be a new dynamic in the bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as in FYROM’s Euroatlantic perspective, which Greece supports.

A. Fourlis: I wanted to ask if you are thinking of or intending to contact and talk more specifically with France and Italy about the issue of illegal migration in the European Union, given that we see the social problem flaring up again, particularly in the country’s western ports – Patras, Igoumenitsa – where we see a very serious problem. Are you thinking of doing anything further on this?

Mr. Delavekouras
: Let me start by saying that Greece was the first country to raise this issue – not just in the past, when our country was the point of reference for illegal migration throughout the EU. Even today, 90% of arrests are made on Greek territory; arrests of people trying to get to other European countries.

But not just then. We also raised the issue when the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa broke out. Mr. Papoutsis and the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, at the European Council, raised the issue of the urgent need for Europe to develop a comprehensive response to this major challenge.

The Commission undertook to present some specific proposals that will be along the lines of Europe’s being able to confront this problem comprehensively. To provide tools to the member states; to put greater emphasis on the patrols carried out, to strengthen Frontex, to discuss the issue of burden sharing, because countries on the EU’s external borders cannot shoulder the problem alone. We think this discussion needs to be carried out.

Right now, Italy and France have had to face specific pressure from increased migration flows from Tunisia. This is one issue, but there is another broader issue: how Europe can respond to illegal migration comprehensively.

So, we want to launch a discussion on this issue. We think that the free movement of persons needs to be safeguarded as one of the great achievements of the European Union. Beyond that, however, this discussion needs to take place.

It needs to be a bold discussion that will bring changes for the better; changes in the direction of reducing the burden that is currently on peripheral countries.

Within this framework, the competent Ministers have carried out discussions in regional platforms, as well. We had a meeting of Citizen Protection Ministers from our region in Cyprus recently, and Mr. Papoutsis participated in that.

Mr. Droutsas was also in Cyprus last week, and Foreign Ministers from our region discussed the pressure the EU as a whole is under right now, and we will naturally continue to work with other partners who acknowledge the problem Greece is facing; a problem that is out of proportion to the population and size of our country and that is the result of our being in the European Union.

These illegal migrants come to Greece because they see Greece as a way station to the rest of Europe. So, this is a European problem that requires a European solution.

A. Athanasopoulos:
Can you describe some of the tools the Commission is thinking of proposing, and possible Greek proposals among them …

Mr. Delavekouras
: The proposals will be presented today at the College of Commissioners. The Council will then be briefed – probably in May – on the level of Home Affairs/Citizen Protection Ministers, and the issue will then be discussed, in all likelihood, at the June European Council.

The European Council will be called upon to provide some guidelines so that we can see the discussion progress. So, it is a little early right now for me to go into detail, because the Commission hasn’t presented its proposals yet. But earlier I set out the principles governing our position, and these have been set down in relevant statements from Citizen Protection Minister Papoutsis as recently as yesterday.

A. Voudouri: We are seeking a partial revision of Dublin II. Are there countries that share this approach? Have they said so?

Mr. Delavekouras: Right now, Dublin II puts a disproportionate burden on peripheral countries, as I said earlier, because is provides for the return of asylum seekers to their country of first entry.

As you can understand, this is unreasonable – and the numbers speak for themselves: 90% of arrests of illegal migrants in Europe are made in Greece. This is an unbelievable burden that falls on the Greek asylum system and obviously cannot be handled.

And that is why we are saying there is a need for this discussion on the reform of the overall system: a revision of Dublin II. Obviously, we are discussing things with our partners. There are countries that have characteristics in common with Greece. There are peripheral countries that are coming under pressure, and they understand that the system as it stands does not work.

This debate is going to take place. There are countries with the opposite view. Obviously, we need to discuss things with our partners to find common ground.

M. Popovik: Mr. Spokesman, two matters: Can you give us details of what is going to be discussed at the forum in Sofia, on Friday, and something on the early elections issue, because you are always saying that Greece is waiting for political will from the other side, and now, yesterday, we heard that the opposition, if they win these elections, will put the name issue to a referendum. Any comment?

Mr. Delavekouras: On the first matter, the Conference in Sofia will look essentially at the experience of the transition of countries in Central and Eastern Europe after 1990, and how this might be useful as a model for the changes we are seeing right now in the Middle East.

It will be an open discussion. The Minister will speak on the issue of institution building. We will wait to see the results, but it is a useful discussion that links these two issues.

As for the matter of a referendum, which has been raised by the government and is now being raised by the opposition, apparently, Greece wants a final agreement, a definitive agreement with FYROM on the name issue.

We are talking about a name with a geographical qualifier for use in relation to everyone, erga omnes, and this will have to be the result – Greece will agree to this. There is no chance of Greece’s agreeing ad referendum, agreeing, but with pending matters to be settled, etc.

We want a definitive solution, and we are waiting for the government in Skopje to participate constructively, at long last, in the negotiation process so that we can reach this solution.

A. Athanasopoulos: Any idea when the Greek-Turkish and Greek-Israeli High-level Cooperation Councils will meet?

Mr. Delavekouras: We don’t have a finalized date for either one at this time. We are in contact and making preparations with Israel and Turkey.

With Turkey, there is an agreement in principle for the meeting to take place this July, but we have yet to name the venue – though it will be in Turkey – or the exact date. With regard to Israel, we are still having meetings.

We’ll see. We will probably be able to have them early in the summer, but I can’t give you a firm date yet.

L. Kalarrytis: Is Greece satisfied with Turkey’s stance so far on the Aegean, the Cyprus issue and the whole range of relations, whether bilateral or more broadly? I want you to answer this so I can ask something else.

Mr. Delavekouras
: There is a contradiction in Turkey’s conduct. On the one hand, you have a Turkish political leadership that says it wants to improve relations with Greece; it wants zero problems with its neighbours; it wants us to make progress on specific issues.

Meanwhile, however, we see ongoing violations – but violations that are always meet with the appropriate response, operationally and diplomatically, so that there is not the slightest scratch on our national sovereignty.

We are talking to Turkey within a given framework. We are talking within the framework of respect for international law and the defence of our country’s sovereign rights.

Beyond that, the moment of truth is approaching, and the Turkish government – whatever Turkish government comes out of the upcoming elections – will have to act on its words and prove that Turkey really wants good neighbourly relations, so that the two countries can really move ahead to a future of peace; so that Turkey’s European perspective can gain momentum; and so we can improve our countries’ bilateral relations and essentially change the model that would have the two country be enemies.

And that is why Turkey needs to take specific steps, and the moment of truth is approaching.

L. Kalarrytis:
As long as Turkey doesn’t take these steps and these infringements and violations continue in the Aegean, along with intransigence on the Cyprus issue, what message is Greece sending abroad by holding joint Ministerial Councils with Turkey? Isn’t it a message that Turkey’s conduct is not of great importance, we are moving ahead, business as usual. We’re signing agreements and holding joint Ministerials with a country that has a casus belli in effect against Greece? How can you sit at the same table and hold a Ministerial Council with someone who has a casus belli in effect against Greece?

Mr. Delavekouras
: You’re putting a lot of issues in one question. Let’s take them one at a time. The casus belli is unacceptable. There is no question of that.

You can’t have a country that is currently a candidate for EU membership threatening an EU member state with war because that EU member state can exercise a legal right provided for by international law, in the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has been ratified by 160 countries, and which is implemented by virtually everyone as customary law.

Beyond that, it is Greece’s choice to improve relations with Turkey, and to that end we are working and making specific moves. Greece has never backed down on what it considers to be its sovereign rights. Rather, all necessary actions are taken to safeguard our rights.

Nevertheless, Greek-Turkish cooperation in certain sectors has produced results and is a reality. From 1999, when this effort slowly began, until today, things have changed in a number of sectors of Greek-Turkish cooperation.

Right now, we have reached a level where even on hard issues – core foreign policy issues – you clearly see that we can say what Turkey needs to change, because otherwise we cannot have normalization of Greek-Turkish relations. This conduct is Turkey’s responsibility.

This conduct needs to change, and we are waiting to see specific results after the elections in Turkey, when there will be a government that has to show whether it really wants to improve our relations.

Beyond that, Greece sees improved Greek-Turkish relations – relations of cooperation with Turkey – as being to the benefit of Greece, of Turkey and of peace in the region, and that is what we are working for.

A. Voudouri: I wanted to ask whether the process for vetting funding of NGO development programmes has been completed. The results were expected at the end of March, with the data submitted to Parliament.

Mr. Delavekouras:
Yes, the audit has essentially been completed. I know we’re overdue, but very soon we will be in a position to send the data and for the competent Deputy Minister to give a detailed briefing.

Thank you very much.

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