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Foreign Minister Droutsas’s interview in the Athens daily Ta Nea, with journalist A. Peloni (excerpts)

Monday, 24 January 2011

The following are excerpts from Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas’s interview in the Athens daily Ta Nea, with journalist A. Peloni:

[On the course of the Greek-Turkish exploratory contacts:]

•    “The exploratory contacts on the delimitation of the continental shelf are moving ahead normally. Neither haste nor hesitation are called for. What is needed is a conscientious, systematic effort, substantial preparation and persistence. With seriousness and responsibility. This is exactly what is being done. In contrast, what we don’t need is irresponsible politicking: cries aimed at creating a sensation.”

[On the extent to which the Turkish Air Force acts without the knowledge of the Turkish government:]

•    “What counts is the fact of the conduct of violations by Turkey as a state. I don’t care whether the decision came from an airman or the Prime Minister. We take all the necessary measures – diplomatic and operational – to reply to the provocations and defend our sovereignty. Nothing goes unanswered. It is a fact, though, that the Turkish side often pleads ignorance.”

[On opposition allegations of “secret diplomacy”:]

•    “I want consensus. It is my principle that national issues should not be used as vehicles for party politics. And I think allegations of “secret diplomacy” are just stereotypical slogans aimed at making citizens feel insecure again. If you disagree as to substance – which is respected – let there be an exchange of arguments. But if you are just playing political games with national issues, you are jeopardizing the country’s vital interests. Everyone has to accept responsibility for their actions.

Greek foreign policy’s strategic goals are longstanding. We all need to struggle towards the same goals. I don’t question anyone’s patriotism. We are exercising a dynamic foreign policy, more proactive and bolder than that of the previous government. But the goals remain the same. That is why the attacks find no mark: there are no arguments, just slogans. I repeat: I want to work for consensus. But anyone who tries to use national issues to play domestic political games will find me opposed.”

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