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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' statements to journalists following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Washington, 13 March 2017)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, how did your meeting with your American counterpart go?

N. KOTZIAS: I didn't brief Mr. Tillerson in the usual sense. What he wanted was an analysis of our region, of how there can be stability and security, what forces are moving and in what manner.

JOURNALIST: On some specific issue?

N. KOTZIAS: No. Greece's role, the issues of stability and security in the region, the geostrategic shifts taking place.

JOURNALIST: Regarding Turkey?

N. KOTZIAS: I referred to Turkey and explained my well-known analysis regarding Turkish restlessness.

JOURNALIST: How did he react?

N. KOTZIAS: I think he listened very attentively and with great interest.

JOURNALIST: Did he raise the issue of Souda with you?

N. KOTZIAS: No, we didn't have a discussion of specific issues or specific questions. He mostly listened. And this is known right now: At this time he his mostly listening. Listening to our thoughts on what has to be done for peace to prevail in the region. I also explained our position that, for there to be human rights, we have to safeguard people's lives, also stressing, by extension, the importance to us of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. I also described for him all of the initiatives we have undertaken in Greece over the past two years: trilateral cooperation schemes, the spirit of Rhodes, and so on.

JOURNALIST: Regarding the Cyprus issue?

N. KOTZIAS: He didn't ask me about the Cyprus issue, and we didn't go into an analysis of the Cyprus issue. I think it is an issue I will discuss more with the National Security Advisor.

JOURNALIST: Was the issue of the economy mentioned, or are they expecting you to raise it tomorrow?

N. KOTZIAS: No, the issue of the economy wasn't raised. What I want to raise is the need for contacts and meetings between the competent Ministers.

JOURNALIST: Was there any mention of energy?

N. KOTZIAS: I explained the energy projects that exist in the region. I think he knows them better than I do, but I referred to how we see them and the importance to Greeks of Greece's developing into a transport hub for various forms of energy. At the same time, I referred to other projects as well, such as the creation of road and rail networks, networks of stability in the region. The networks of energy, of railways, of cooperation between universities and research centres. I explained that, first of all, we need networks of stability, and then generation of economic gains for us.

JOURNALIST: So, what you are saying is that, in general terms, they listened to what you had to say.

N. KOTZIAS: He asked me specific questions. He also made an interesting comment at the end.

JOURNALIST: Did you talk about the Balkans, Skopje?

N. KOTZIAS: No, about Skopje, in particular, no, but when I explained the stability issues in the region, he made reference to the instability that exists in our northern neighbours and our effort to stabilise them.

JOURNALIST: If I may, what was the focus of his attention?

N. KOTZIAS: He focused his attention on the forces that, in my opinion, are destabilising the region.

JOURNALIST: And what are they?

N. KOTZIAS: You can take this as homework.

JOURNALIST: Regarding Israel and Egypt?

N. KOTZIAS: I referred to the very good and intensive cooperation we have with them, and I imagine he was very interested to hear that. I have to say that, after us, he had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, with whom I had quite an interesting conversation in the interim.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, it doesn't concern the meeting, but would you like to comment on what is happening in Europe, with Holland and Turkey?

N. KOTZIAS: I think Turkey is trying to export its restlessness to third countries. Thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Thank you very much.

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