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Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias' speech at the inaugural meeting of the Scientific Council (Foreign Ministry, 13 June 2017)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias' speech at the inaugural meeting of the Scientific Council (Foreign Ministry, 13 June 2017)It is with great pleasure that I welcome the 1st Session of the Foreign Ministry's Scientific Council, and I want to thank all of you who accepted what is, in my opinion, a position of distinction that, at the same time, honours us by your acceptance.

I thank the Service, the Secretariat General and the Committee that, as provided for by the new law, proposed a list from which those present were chosen.

First of all, I want to thank the President of the Scientific Council, Professor Christos Rozakis, whom all of you know. He was Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights, he is the Chair of the Administrative Tribunal of the Council of Europe, he was an exceptional figure and Professor and the Kapodistrian University of Athens, and we know that he is one of the world's top experts on International Law, and above all the Law of the Sea.

I first became acquainted with this Law, personally, even though I am not a jurist in the strict sense of the term, through articles by Christos Rozakis, and I am always grateful for the knowledge I gained from him.

Christos Rozakis is also well known because he has dealt extensively with the legal aspect of Greek-Turkish problems, and he was among the first people, internationally, to deal with the Exclusive Economic Zone.

That is, he is someone who has knowledge and experience of the whole range of issues of International Law and Science. Because, as we know, the Scientific Council is an advisory organ that seeks and makes recommendations regarding the long-term problems our country is facing and regarding long-term Legal problems, because while our Legal Service also participates, at the same time it deals with the day-to-day, short-term issues that are associated with foreign policy and have to be dealt with through Legal Science.

I wanted to thank Christos Rozakis in particular. It is a great honour personally and for our Ministry.

The second is a good friend of mine, but he isn't here for that reason. He is a great legal mind, Haris Pamboukis, who has served as a Secretary General at our Ministry and as a government Minister – as has Christos Rozakis, as Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Haris Pamboukis is a Professor of Law who has been honoured with the right and, concurrently, I would say, the duty to teach at the Hague Academy of International Law, which is the highest honour for someone in his field, and he is the top expert our country has in International Private Law.

He knows the problems of Greek foreign policy on the practical and theoretical levels, including Greek-Turkish issues, International Agreements, the International Community, International Relations. I thank him very much. I am honoured by his accepting to be a member of our Scientific Council.

Third is Fay Pazartzis, who has helped us a great deal in the negotiations we are carrying out on the legal aspect of the Cyprus issue. A person from whom we recently read an important book on the Treaty of Lausanne; a Treaty many people would like to revise.

She is a professor who teaches, very successfully, and researches human rights issues, the international position of human rights, as well as problems associated with the UN.

If I remember correctly, she has written an exceptional book not only on Lausanne, but also on issues such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague and Greek-Turkish relations. She has a brightening presence, and I would also like to thank her for accepting the proposal.

The fourth, also a Professor and Emeritus at the University of Athens, Antonis Bredimas. I first read his writings on International Agreements, on International Institutions. A very special case for legal experts. He deals with International Law and International Organizations. He will help and advise us from that perspective, but at the same time he also has a great deal of experience with Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations.

Fifth, Professor at the University of Macedonia, Paroula Perraki, who is among those people with unparalleled expertise in International Organizations, in combination with the European Community and the European Institutions. She has also dealt with human rights.

As you can see, our Scientific Council has many professors who are experts in International Law, the Law of the Sea, Institutional Law, Human Rights, and with individual specializations.

If I remember correctly, Paroula also served as an ad hoc judge at the Court of Human Rights, so you are another member of our Scientific Council who has experience of the European system, the Court of Human Rights.

Sixth is Petros Liakouras, who is participating in the capacity of Scientific Director of the Centre for Analysis and Planning. An Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Piraeus, among the few experts on the legal aspect of the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations.

He has written about and has in-depth knowledge of the organization of foreign policy, the Law of the Sea, which our Ministry deals with extensively, of course.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Liakoura, and Paroula Perraki individually for accepting our proposal.

The seventh, I think he is the youngest, and he will arrive later, teaches at Oxford University, honouring Greek letters abroad. Antonis Tzanakopoulos. He is an Associate Professor at Oxford University. He has profound knowledge in a special area that concerns international conventions and international agreements, and he has also written about and specialized in issues concerning the Security Council and the functioning of the UN, and he is very useful. On the one hand, Paroula Perraki will link us with the Thessaloniki Institutes that deal with the Balkan countries, so that we can study legal issues we have with those countries. On the other hand, Antonis Tzanakopoulos will link us with the extensive scientific community of the best universities in the UK.

If the honour of your presence, for me, and the honour you do the Ministry by accepting the proposal distinguishes you, if you are all distinguished by something, it is profound knowledge, profound love for the law and human rights, the international recognition you all have. It is that you have experience and theoretical perspectives – some more than others, no doubt, but others just as much – on the issues of international law, of international organizations and conventions that are linked to Greece's problems.

You are not just theoreticians. Rather, all of you have worked as practitioners in many, many negotiations or in key positions in the Greek state. What you have taught, you have tested in practice, and it is a great source of wealth for our Foreign Ministry and a great honour for us that you accepted and that you will work – gratis, in fact – for the Foreign Ministry, for Greek foreign policy, and you are yet another step in the implementation of the last small bill that we submitted to Parliament and that, apart from one political party, was supported unanimously. And it will be resubmitted, with certain additions, as part of the larger bill we are preparing on the Ministry's Statute.

Mr. Pamboukis and Mr. Liakouras also have practical experience of this, because they worked on older versions of the statutes in the 1990s. At that time, we began working on the Ministry's statute during the term of our late and unforgettable friend Giannos Kranidiotes, whom I always feel the need to honour, the Minister who combined the indomitable Cypriot spirit with scientific knowledge and practical insight here at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I want to thank you all once again. I hope that we succeed in capitalising on your willingness and knowledge and that, first of all, we meet the responsibilities we have, some of which we will share with you; responsibilities concerning the future of this land, human rights in this land and anywhere else necessary, and the needs of our Ministry.

Again, thank you all very much.

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