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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' statements to journalists during the 4th EU-Arab League Ministerial Meeting (Cairo, 20 December 2016)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' statements to journalists during the 4th EU-Arab League Ministerial Meeting (Cairo, 20 December 2016)During my remarks to the Meeting, I explained that there are two fields of cooperation between the European Union and the Arab League. The first concerns the search for solutions to existing conflicts, whether hard or soft in nature, like the Palestine-Israel conflict and the issue of the creation of two states, as well as the armed clashes in Iraq and Syria, where the war needs to end.

You know that I have always supported the creation of an anti-war movement. Unfortunately, this is missing from Europe, particularly from the European Left, and thus the discussion is limited to the repercussions of war, mainly the refugee crisis. I also referred to the need to support and recognize the National Government of Libya, and I stressed the importance of bringing all of the country's forces into a unified political system.

The second field of EU cooperation with the Arab world concerns what is now called the "spirit of Rhodes". In fact, our Arab colleagues call it that, and it is focused on the positive agenda we need to promote. Every time we meet, we cannot limit our discussion to the conflicts in the region, as this lends no perspective to the populations living there, in particular to the young people.

In the context of this positive framework, we should develop synergies in the sectors of education, culture, research and economy. We need to organize friendship and culture weeks between the states. We need to create cooperation networks in various fields, from transport to universities and research centres. I believe that these networks and synergies will enhance the stability and security of the region much more than the interventions we are constantly reading out during our meetings.

I also referred to the three major initiatives Greece has taken in this direction. That is: a) the respective trilateral cooperation configurations Greece and Cyprus have formed with Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Palestine; b) the international Conference for the peaceful coexistence of religions in the Middle East, which will be organised for a second time, in 2017, this time in collaboration with Austria, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates; and c) the Rhodes Conference for security and stability, which will reconvene in May 2017. You should note that my colleagues from Iraq, Kuwait and Tunisia, as well as the Secretary General of the Arab League, were very pleased to accept invitations to visit our country in the coming time and participate, personally, in the Rhodes Conference. I accepted invitations from Iraq, Tunisia and Kuwait to carry out visits to those countries.

We also talked about cooperation between the Foreign Ministries, and especially between our Political Directorates, while we also considered the potential for developing interministerial cooperation and capitalizing on Greece's experience regarding European Union matters. All of my collocutors spoke positively of our stance on a series of issues, including Egypt and the visit we carried out recently to Libya. Thank you.

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