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Briefing of diplomatic correspondents by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

G. DELAVEKOURAS: Good morning. I’ll start with the programme. Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas will be travelling to Brussels tomorrow to attend the Dinner of EU member-state Foreign Ministers. The Foreign Ministers of accession candidate countries will also be in attendance.

On Friday, 23 March, Mr. Dimas will participate in the proceedings of the Foreign Affairs Council. The agenda for the Council includes a discussion of the situation in Syria, developments in Belarus, and a review of progress in the Sahel region. At the luncheon there will also be a discussion of the latest developments in Syria, Iran, and the Middle East peace process. Mr. Dimas is to meet on the margins of the FAC with the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Cyprus, Mr. Downer.

Mr. Dimas will participate on Monday, 26 March, in the General Affairs Council, where there will be a discussion of the results of the European Council and the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020.

At 13:30 on Tuesday, 27 March, Mr. Dimas will meet with the MEPs and co-chairs of the Greens group in European Parliament.

At 17:00 on Wednesday, 28 March, Mr. Dimas will meet with Israeli Environment Minister Uzi Landau.

As we speak, Deputy Foreign Minister Dollis is in New York, where he will meet with Archbishop of America Dimitrios and Greek American leaders. He will then travel to Washington to Participate tomorrow, Thursday, 22 March, in the White House events and the reception at our Embassy in Washington marking the celebration of our national holiday. While in Washington, Mr. Dollis will meet with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the State Department’s head of Economic Affairs.

On Monday and Tuesday, 26 and 27 March, Mr. Dollis will carry out a working visit to the Republic of Cyprus, where he will be received by the President of the Republic, the President of the House of Representatives and the Foreign Minister. Mr. Dollis will also meet with Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos.

That’s it for announcements. Your questions, please.

A. FOURLIS: Will you tell us, if you can, what your position is, your view, whether there has really been an exchange of unofficial coordinates or notification between the Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministries regarding the movements of Greek, Turkish vessels in the Aegean, and whether this really was the practice in previous years?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: Greece’s positions are firm and based on international law and, specifically, the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea. There are channels of communication, they are open on all levels and are useful. But in no way are these channels a substitute – and in no way could they become a substitute – for the institutional and official actions and procedures demanded by the Greek side in such cases. According to the Law of the Sea on maritime scientific research in international waters over the Greek continental shelf, there is a need and request for notification of the Greek side, so that the relevant permit can be issued if required. Otherwise, the necessary representations are made. It goes without saying that there is close and ongoing cooperation with the Defense Ministry on this, as well as with the Coast Guard. This is Greece’s position, and it remains unswerving.

N. MELETIS: Mr. Spokesman, has a permit been requested from the Greek side for the research being carried out by the Piri Reis?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: So far, the information we have is that a Turkish NAVTEX has been issued, stipulating the region of the Piri Reis research. The Hellenic National Defence General Staff and Coast Guard data so far do not point to a violation of Greek jurisdiction, sovereignty or sovereign rights.

P. PAPATHANASIOU: Mr. Spokesman, about a month and a half ago, Mr. Dimas received a letter from the Distomo Municipal Council regarding the city residents’ fight for German compensation. The letter asked the Foreign Ministry to continue to support the residents. What is your position for the coming time, and should we expect any initiatives regarding the matter of the occupation loan, which, I remind you, is due from Germany? Thank you.

G. DELAVEKOURAS: First of all, I remind you that the Greek state stood by the residents of Distomo at the ICJ. We had a ruling there that naturally created a new state of affairs and that needs to be studied, but it confirms the responsibility of states. We have repeatedly stated – the Foreign Minister has stated in Parliament – that the issue of compensation remains pending. In fact, the Foreign Minister has expressed his readiness to participate in a relevant session – which has been scheduled and postponed twice so far – in Parliament. It is useful for this discussion to take place. For its part, the Greek state reiterates and stresses that the issue remains open.

N. MELETIS: Mr. Spokesman, has the Turkish side sent any notification regarding the coordinates where the Turkish research vessel will be moving?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: No, no notification has been sent by the Turkish side of the coordinates where the Turkish vessel will be moving. I would also like to note – following the previous questions from Mr. Fourlis – that the unofficial communications that exist are not a practice and that the channels of communication, while useful, are not a substitute for the institutional procedure on the level of Foreign Ministries. This is in effect and will continue to be in effect.

N. MELETIS: At any time in the past, in this unofficial communication, has the Turkish side been informed by the Greek side regarding the movements of Greek research vessels in the Aegean?

G. DELAVEKOURAS: The Greek side has proceeded to no official notification of the Turkish side and is under no obligation to do so according to international law. At the same time, Greece has consistently requested full notification from the Turkish side, as it does from any other side, when maritime scientific research is to be carried out in a region of international waters that is over the Greek continental shelf.

S. RISTOVSKA: Whether there is a chance of a meeting tomorrow in Brussels between Mr. Dimas and Mr. Popovski.

G. DELAVEKOURAS: I am not aware of any meeting having been scheduled, but if the opportunity arises we would gladly meet with the Foreign Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Thank you.