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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias' statements to journalists on completion of his visit to the U.S.A. (14 March 2017)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

N. KOTZIAS: I think the two-day visit to the U.S. was very successful. We met with the Secretary of State, we met with the National Security Advisor and his deputy. We also saw the White House Chief of Staff and a number of other officials who deal with foreign policy. We had meetings with Senators and with a team of journalists -- I would say that the most interesting was this morning's meeting, with Reuters. I think what was made clear to the American side is our particular geostrategic analysis of our region, and we agreed on the great need for stability and security in this region. Our country's special role is a role of responsibility. We have put together a number of institutions, like the trilateral cooperation schemes we have with countries such as Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. We have quadrilateral cooperation schemes in the Balkans, as well as the cross-border cooperation scheme. We are in the process of forming a new quadrilateral cooperation scheme with Georgia and Armenia. All of this shows Greece's potential and special role in the region.

JOURNALIST: Regarding the meeting with the National Security Advisor, Mr. McMaster?
N. KOTZIAS: The meeting was scheduled to last 40 minutes, but it went on for an hour and a half. We talked about very specific issues concerning the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.

JOURNALIST: The Cyprus issue?
N. KOTZIAS: We didn't spend much time on the Cyprus issue, beyond my explaining what the condition is for successful negotiations. The condition is the definition of the Cyprus problem; that is, Cyprus's being rid of foreign troops and Turkey's understanding that it cannot ask for special privileges, like the rights of intervention it wants.

JOURNALIST: What is your view of the new U.S. Administration's priorities in our region?
N. KOTZIAS: I can see that the U.S. Administration is looking for ways to upgrade the role and importance of American foreign policy, in cooperation – as far as I understand, in a different way than in the past, more intensive and equal – with states with which it has very friendly relations.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, under president Obama, Greece had support on the issue of the eurozone, the debt and the economy.
N. KOTZIAS: And this will continue. Having had an initial conversation on the subject, I think this support will continue and perhaps be even greater.

JOURNALIST: Regarding the ongoing face-off between Turkey and Western European countries, today Mr. Erdogan attacked Angela Merkel and the Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the EU announcement that supported Holland. Would you like to comment on that?
N. KOTZIAS: I told you yesterday that Turkey is exporting its restlessness. Perhaps some circles in the Turkish leadership think that a verbal altercation of this kind helps Mr. Erdogan's election campaign.

JOURNALIST: What is Greece's position on visits by Turkish politicians to our country before the referendum?
N. KOTZIAS: The Greek Foreign Minister's position is that he doesn't talk before specific requests are made and specific procedures are in place.

JOURNALIST: And one last question: At the Delphi Conference, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said that he fears an accident in the Aegean. Was this fear verified in the talks you had here?
N. KOTZIAS: We didn't have those kinds of talks. Our talks were more about what the country's role is, and not about blaming or talking about third parties.

JOURNALIST: Did they say anything about the Turkish standoff with Europe?
N. KOTZIAS: No, we didn't talk about that.