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New Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’ approach to Greek foreign policy

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The new Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, spoke of a proactive foreign policy, which will be active and open bridges with the whole world, as he took over the reins of the Foreign Ministry from outgoing Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

Mr. Kotzias characterized himself and his colleagues, the Alternate Ministers Nikos Chountis and Euclid Tsakalotos, as Europeanists, stressing that “we look forward to bridges with the new emerging world.” As he noted, “we do not see our relations in the context of our European accession and course as running counter to or conflicting with our relations with the emerging new powers.”

This new transitional relationship as a bridge between Greece-EU and emerging markets requires the development of our capacities and potential, Mr. Kotzias underscored, explaining that “in the world that is dawning, Greece needs to develop its ability to mediate, to contribute to arbitrations, and to develop its negotiating capacity not only for itself, but also between other states that are in crisis regions.”

The new Foreign Minister made special reference to the catalytic role our country can play as a factor for stability. “Greece is within a triangle of instability and is a bright beacon of stability,” he stated, adding that “any lack of the necessary stability in our region will mean a great deal of suffering for the Greek people as well as for the whole of the EU.”

He underscored that “our foreign policy must be based on and serve the struggle that will be mounted by the new government, as the country’s savior, for rational negotiation and resolution of the problems related to the public debt and to the overriding of the memorandum agreements.”

Referring to the extraordinary meeting of the EU Council of Ministers that is convening today in Brussels to consider the issue of the new package of sanctions for Russia, he argued that certain of our partners violated the rules of the European Union and attempted to present us with a fait accomplis before the new government had even been sworn in. “We made this clear from the outset, it will not be accepted,” Mr. Kotzias stressed, adding that “Anyone who thinks that Greece will relinquish its sovereignty and active contribution to European policy in the name of its debt is mistaken. We want to be Greeks, patriots. We want to be Europeanists. Above all, we want a Ministry that thinks, that dares to think differently, that will turn a new page and serve the general concerns and prospects of our people.”

“Greece is sovereign when it infuses international organizations, multilateral negotiations and the European Union itself with Greek foreign policy,” the new Foreign Minister said.

In parallel, Mr. Kotzias called on the personnel of the Foreign Ministry to act guided by free thinking, and he stressed that there is a need for proposals and critical thinking, underscoring that our goal is “to bleed for a Greece that will cease to bleed.”

Addressing friends and associates whom he met again at the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Kotzias stressed that “I am pleased because I have returned to my home.” He also thanked Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras for his trust, concluding that “policy is not just plans, it is also sentiments.”