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Foreign Minister Droutsas’ statements at the Forum on Democratic Transition in Central And Eastern Europe and Change in the Middle East
Mr. Droutsas: Security and peace in the region, in the Arab world, means security and peace in the European Union. Economic growth in the region means economic growth in the European Union. Thus, as the European Union, we need to invest more in these changes we see taking place in the Arab world, because in this way we can avert, if you will, certain difficult issues that the European Union might be called upon to confront. And I am referring here, for example, to the danger of major migration flows from this region. For all these reasons, as I said, I think that EU investment in this region would certainly have very positive results for Greece. Because we mustn’t forget that Greece is part of the immediate region – this is our immediate neighbourhood – and all of these developments bear directly on our country.
That is why today’s conference here in Sofia was important. It was a good time for some EU Foreign Ministers, as well as many specialists from the Arab world, to get together to exchange views, to see how we can use our experiences here in the countries of the Balkans, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, for the changes we are seeing today in the Arab countries; changes toward more democratic systems.
Journalist: Right, and what did you discuss, Mr. Minister, with your Bulgarian counterpart, Nickolay Mladenov?
Mr. Droutsas: We focussed on developments in the region. This is the issue we are all concerned with right now. Both Greece and Bulgaria have constructive thoughts, proposals, we are taking initiatives in this direction …
Journalist: Are you referring to the region of the Arab world, North Africa and …
Mr. Droutsas: Yes, and particularly the developments in Libya and Syria, which concern us more every day. But we also discussed developments in our region, the Balkans, where we share the common goal of seeing all the Balkan countries become members of the EU as soon as possible. On this, we have developed close cooperation with Bulgaria within the framework of Greece’s Agenda 2014 initiative.
Finally, we also discussed our bilateral relations, which we have really taken to a level where there are no problems, and we are now discussing issues like how we can further develop our very good cooperation – cooperate even more closely. And I think that a basic step in this direction is the joint Ministerial Council between Greece and Bulgaria. We discussed the necessary preparations that need to be made ahead of the next meeting, the second meeting of this Council, and we decided that this second meeting will probably take place in early September, in Greece.