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Foreign Minister Kotzias’ statements to representatives of the news media following his meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (New York City, 24 April 2015)
Below are Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’ statements following his meeting today, at UN Headquarters in New York City, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
N. KOTZIAS: Today I met with Mr. Nimetz. We talked about the course of the negotiations on the matter of FYROM, the name. I briefed him on the talks we had regarding confidence-building measures. As you know, a month ago, in Riga, I saw the Foreign Minister of FYROM, and I proposed that we move ahead to confidence-building measures. There was no immediate response. In the end, the government of our neighbouring country agreed to such a discussion.
In Budapest, where I was two weeks ago, we exchanged lists of points for confidence-building measures, and there is, as we have seen over the past ten days, a coincidence of views on some points that might serve as a point of departure for such a dialogue. I also informed Mr. Nimetz that we want the dialogue to continue and we want him to bear in mind the fact that behind the name issue their lurks a specific kind of irredentism that makes it difficult to restore the relations we want to have, which are relations of trust.
A short while ago, I met with the UN Secretary-General. We talked about the issues of progress or lack thereof, about our hope for a solution to the Cyprus problem, and about the negotiations that are to begin by decision of the Cypriot government.
We talked very briefly about FYROM, because he appears to have been briefed by Mr. Nimetz already, and we talked extensively about the problem of the migratory waves coming from North Africa and the Middle East. We ascertained that it is an issue that our government, the Greek government, raised from the moment it took office.
You should know how much of a misunderstanding arose from the fact that I highlighted to the whole of Europe the risk of such a migratory wave coming about, and in fact there were those who tried to say that I said I would send these waves. I was carrying out a political analysis that, unfortunately, was borne out.
I set out my proposal to the UN Secretary-General for the UN – which has its own institutional mechanisms – to support the European Union more with the experience and means at its disposal for combating these phenomena we have seen in recent days.
I also mentioned and explained to him the initiative we are taking for the protection of Christian communities and, more generally, multi-ethnicity and multi-religiosity in the Middle East, as an matter not just of the protection of human lives, but also of protection of the values that have been nurtured for two thousand years now in the region. And I set out certain specific proposals for utilizing capable Greeks – academics and others – and that proposal was accepted supportively. And I must say I am satisfied on that count.
I have the sense, from the talks I had with organizations in New York, as well – talks that I will continue until this evening – and from the meeting we had with the American Jewish organizations, here in New York, that, while the atmosphere was strange in general when we first arrived in America, as was apparent in Washington this past Sunday, here they have a positive attitude to Greece and have received our messages in the manner in which we intended.
Thank you very much.
JOURNALIST: Anything more on the Cyprus issue? With regard to the talks you had with the Secretary-General.
N. KOTZIAS: Regarding the Cyprus issue, I told the Secretary-General what I always say: that it is a matter on which the fundamental positions, with regard to the internal resolution of the problem, are an issue of Nicosia itself. And at the same time I underscored that we, as a guarantor power, want withdrawal from Cyprus for both ourselves and Turkey. There cannot be a substantial solution that restores a Republic of Cyprus – sovereign and with all the rights that every member of the European Union has – if that doesn’t happen. A solution will not come about. It will be a simulated or illusory solution, and we will be kidding ourselves.
So for us, as a guarantor power, our position is that we want to sever the rights for ourselves and others deriving from older treaties. I think they are thinking about it carefully. The message was received, and I think that it is now known to everyone, from the U.S. government to the UN Secretary-General.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, Mr. Cavusoglu said before his meeting with Mr. Kerry that he wants a solution within 2015. When Mr. Davutoglu came here and saw the Secretary-General, he proposed that Ban Ki-moon prepare a plan along the lines of the Annan Plan. What is Greece’s stance on these issues?
N. KOTZIAS: First of all, as you know, on 11 May I will be going to Istanbul to see the Patriarch. On 12 May I have bilateral talks with Turkey, and on 13 and 14 May, we have the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Antalya. I think that if the Turks want a solution very fast, they have but to leave the island very fast.
JOURNALIST: Will you tell us a little about Amos Hochstein’s visit to Athens next week? What exactly are we expecting from the special envoy for energy affairs?
N. KOTZIAS: The Special Envoy for energy affairs told us that he will bring a very creative and economically advantageous proposal for capitalizing on Greece as an energy hub, and I hope he includes in the proposal he brings us the points I also reiterated to my colleague Mr. John Kerry.
JOURNALIST: How would you asses your visit to the U.S.?
N. KOTZIAS: As we travelled together these days in the U.S., I would say that the visit to Washington and New York City was more creative and productive than we expected, based on our previous experience. And I think that the appropriate climate of trust has been created. And it is characteristic that we have proposals – from many, many sides – of assistance in developing our economy and in passing on our views in international organizations based here in the U.S., like the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.
For those of you who reside in the U.S., I hope you have as good a time as we have had during these days we’ve spent together. And I wish those of you who are leaving, along with us, a good journey.