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Statements of Foreign Minister Droutsas and his Polish counterpart, Mr. Sikorski (Warsaw, 19 January 2011)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Main points:

Mr. Sikorski

·       “Poland and Greece are countries that during the 19th and 20th centuries participated in common struggles. Greece is also a country that is chosen by a large number of Polish tourists who very much appreciate the countries natural beauty.”

·       “We agree on many areas of international policy, and we agree that we will support each other in the future. Poland wants to see the completion of the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU, and this is something that Greece is monitoring very closely.”

·       “We are following closely the successful efforts of Greece and the Greek government to confront one of the worst economic and financial situations.”

Mr. Droutsas

·       “Poland is assuming the Presidency of the European Union in a few months, and we had the opportunity to talk about Poland’s priorities and programme, and I can already say that I am certain that it will be an exceptionally successful Presidency.”

·       “As Greece, we have a special interest in EU Enlargement in the Balkans, and in this context I had the opportunity to brief Radek on Greece’s very well known “Agenda 2014” initiative, as well as Greece’s intention to hold an EU-Western Balkans Summit during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.”

·       “We also discussed, of course, the issue of EU-Turkish relations, and I had the opportunity to discuss with Radek the thought we expressed concerning a debate, an open debate and meeting of the European Union on the issue of Turkey’s European accession course.”

·       “I hope that Greece will become the most beloved tourist destination for all Poles, whether they come to the Greek islands or the coast of Northern Greece, I think Greece’s natural beauty will enchant everyone, as will the warm hospitality of all Greeks.”

Complete transcript of the Ministers’ statements (translation):

Mr. Sikorski: I am very happy that today’s meeting took place. I know my colleague from Greece very well; we know each other on a person level, as well as from the meetings within the framework of the European Council. But today we had a bilateral meeting, of which the results were very, very positive.

Poland and Greece are countries that during the 19th and 20th centuries participated in common struggles. Greece is also a country that is chosen by a large number of Polish tourists, who very much appreciate the country’s natural beauty.

We agree on many areas of international policy, and we agree that we will support each other in the future. Poland wants to see the completion of the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU, and this is something that Greece is monitoring very closely. And we both support the Community method, which we will implement during the Agreement on the EU budget for the coming years.

I thank the Minister for supporting one of the Polish initiatives, which concerns strengthening the defence and security policy. As a state, Poland also supports FRONTEX, and is co-responsible for migration policy. We also discussed issues concerning the neighbourhood policy. I am referring mainly to the eastern space, and I believe that I managed to convince Mr. Droutsas that the states participating in the Eastern Partnership have a long-term perspective.

Allow me to say that we are following closely the successful efforts of Greece and the Greek government to confront one of the worst economic and financial situations, which it inherited from its predecessors. The ideal relations reactivated by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Messrs. Tusk and Papandreou, will continue in the future.

I give the floor to Mr. Droutsas.

Mr. Droutsas: Thank you very much. My warm thanks to Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski for the very warm welcome here in Warsaw. We see each other frequently within the framework of the European Union, and our relations, including our personal relations, are very warm, but it is always special to have a bilateral meeting, and so I’m very happy to be here in Warsaw today.

Greek-Polish bilateral relations are at an excellent level, but, as always, there is still much room for intensifying these relations, and I believe that after this meeting today, we will be able to do exactly that.

As Radek said, Greek-Polish ties are historical, but they also have a very good present and an even better future, and it is in precisely that direction that we want to work.

Poland, as you know, is assuming the Presidency of the European Union in a few months, and we had the opportunity to talk about Poland’s priorities and programme, and I can already say that I am certain that it will be an exceptionally successful Presidency, and I assure Radek that he will have Greece at his side in everything he wants to do during this Presidency.

We had the opportunity – and I thank Radek very much for this; for dedicating so much of our conversation to this – to talk about the issue of EU Enlargement in the future. Within this framework, Greece fully supports the efforts of the EU and the activities of the Eastern Partnership, which Poland promotes with all its power. As Greece, we have a special interest in EU Enlargement in the Balkans, and in this context I had the opportunity to brief Radek on Greece’s very well known “Agenda 2014” initiative, as well as Greece’s intention to hold an EU-Western Balkans Summit during its EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.

Talking about the enlargement issue, we also discussed, of course, the issue of EU-Turkish relations, and I had the opportunity to discuss with Radek the thought we expressed concerning a debate, an open debate and meeting of the European Union on the issue of Turkey’s European accession course.

Finally, I had the opportunity to mention the issue of illegal migration; an issue that bears very much on Greece. And I briefed Radek on the recent activities and initiatives Greece has taken on this matter. I had the opportunity to thank him – and I want to do this publicly – to thank Poland for its participation in FRONTEX and the rapid reaction force – RAPID – on the issue of confronting illegal migration.

Finally, let me say once again regarding our bilateral relations that we have much more room to collaborate closely, and allow me, Radek, to take this opportunity to refer to one issue in particular: tourism. I hope that Greece will become the most beloved tourist destination for all Poles, whether they come to the Greek islands or the coast of Northern Greece, I think Greece’s natural beauty will enchant everyone, as will the warm hospitality of all Greeks.

Once again, my warm thanks for the reception and hospitality, and I hope I can receive you soon in Greece, as well.

Journalist: For both Ministers. You both mentioned the issue of illegal migration. I would like you to give us more details about Frontex. Will it stay in Greece to fact this threat, which is a threat to Greece?

Mr. Sikorski: Regarding the mission, I would advise you to address your question to Frontex itself. Poland will support the initiatives that are undertaken, but these initiatives have to be effective; they have to be humanitarian for these mechanisms to be maintained. And that is why I suggest you direct your question to Frontex. We are not backing down from the rights deriving from our national sovereignty. We, too, are a border country. But we believe that migration also has to be confronted through supporting and contributing to the development of countries in our wider region.

Mr. Droutsas: I’d like to say a few words, as well. As I said earlier, we also depend on cooperation with Frontex, and I think that this cooperation has already produced very good results. Illegal migration is a very important issue for Greece, but allow me to stress that it is not an issue that interests Greece alone. It is an issue bearing on the whole of the European Union. Greece and the Greek government – the current government – are taking all the necessary measures for combating this phenomenon effectively, but while always showing a human face, if you will, and meeting its obligations under international conventions.

Journalist: For the Greek Foreign Minister. Whether the decision to build a wall has been taken – to build a wall on the Greek-Turkish border.

Mr. Droutsas: Yes, the decision has already been made by the government to put up an artificial barrier along a section of the Greek-Turkish border. As I had the opportunity to say earlier, the government is handling the issue of illegal migration with determination and with effective measures, while at the same time showing its human face and meeting all of its obligations under international conventions.

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