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Briefing of diplomatic correspondents by Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mr. Delavekouras: Good morning.

We have handed out an information sheet to you on the ICJ procedure for the FYROM application. I also want to inform you that all of the Court proceedings will be broadcast live on the Internet, on the Court’s website, and that if you want to go to The Hague to cover the proceedings, you can be accredited. The relevant information is on the ICJ website.

I also want to note the announcement we issued earlier regarding the Greeks in Japan. The Foreign Ministry has arranged with airline companies to reserve seats on flights bound for Greece. This is because there were reports that some Greeks were having difficulty finding tickets. Our Embassy in Tokyo has notified and is in ongoing contact with them and is waiting for them to respond so we can see how many want to come back to Greece.

Now on to the Ministers’ programmes.

On Friday, 18 March, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will have a protocol meeting with the Australian Ambassador to Athens, Mr. Jeremy Newman, whose stay in Greece is coming to an end.

On the same day, Mr. Droutsas will meet with the President of the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans, Mr. Nikolaos Ouzounoglou.

At 17:00 on Friday, the National Council on Foreign Policy will convene under Mr. Droutsas’s chairmanship. The agenda for that meeting includes the Turkish Foreign Minister’s recent visit to Athens and developments in North Africa.

On Monday, 21 March, Mr. Droutsas and Alternate Foreign Minister Xenogiannakopoulou will be in Brussels for the EU General Affairs and Foreign Affairs Councils (GAC/FAC). The GAC will focus on preparations for the March 24-25 European Council, and the FAC agenda so far includes recent developments in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East peace process and the EU strategy for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On Tuesday, 22 March, Mr. Droutsas will be in Berlin, where he will meet in the morning with his German counterpart, Mr. Guido Westerwelle. He will also deliver a speech at a conference on the economic and financial crisis and its impact on the EU. This event is being hosted by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) at the Friedrich Ebert Institute, and the Chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, Mr. Steinmeier, as well as Luxembourg Foreign Minister Asselborn, will also be participating.

At 11:00 on 23 March – within the framework of this year’s celebrations marking Greek Independence Day (25 March) – Mr. Droutsas will inaugurate and Exhibition of documents from the Greek Revolution and copies of paintings from the National Galleries “National Regeneration” collection. This Exhibition is being organized by the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic and Historical Archive Department.

Finally, on 24 and 25 March, Mr. Droutsas and Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou will accompany the Prime Minister to the European Council in Brussels.

In a follow-up to Prime Minister Papandreou’s March 2010 meeting in Berlin with Chancellor Merkel, at which the two leaders agreed to upgrade Greek-German economic cooperation, a Greek government delegation is departing for Berlin today, headed by Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou. Members of the delegation include Deputy Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Dinos Rovlias; Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Panaretos; Deputy Labour and Social Insurance Minister Vasilis Kegeroglou; Finance Ministry Secretary General Ilias Plaskovitis; Energy Ministry Secretary General Kostas Mathioudakis; and Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Ministry Secretary General Haris Tsiokas. The agenda for Thursday’s talks with the German government includes European developments, a review of Greek-German bilateral cooperation, and consideration of ways to further expand and strengthen Greek-German cooperation.

On 18 March, Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis will meet with the Secretary General of the BSEC, Ambassador Chrysanthopoulos.

On Tuesday, 22 March, Mr. Kouvelis will meet with Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdulla and Serbian Ambassador Zupanjevac.

And on 24 March, Mr. Kouvelis will meet with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Fu.

On Friday, 25 March, Deputy Foreign Minister Dollis will be in the U.S. to participate in the annual White House celebrations marking Greek Independence Day.

On 23 March, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General, Ambassador Zepos, will hold consultations in Athens with his Israeli counterpart, Ambassador Barak.

Tomorrow, 17 March, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Mr. Papadopoulos, will speak at the Export Money Conference 2011, on “Exports: The National Challenge – funding, means of support and target markets”.

N. Hidiroglou: Mr. Spokesman, I would like to ask whether certain problems have been resolved that were observed in the funding of our diplomatic missions abroad. You will be aware of the relevant news reports. Second, whether 25 March will be celebrated at all our Embassies, and particularly in places with a large Greek community.

Mr. Delavekouras: Regarding the first issue you raised, from beginning of the year the Foreign Ministry has had serious operational problems related to the way the budget was implemented. There were relevant contacts with the Finance Ministry and issues concerning wages and timely deposit of operational expenses have been settled. There are, of course, still other issues that we are discussing with the Finance Ministry. Regarding the second issue, the celebration of Greek Independence Day will take place at our embassies as usual. The relevant instructions have been given so that the appropriate celebration can be organized in each case.

Mr. Athanasopoulos:  Good morning. Mr. Spokesman, yesterday, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Bulent Arinc, speaking at a meeting of leaders on change – in Istanbul, if I’m not mistaken – made a statement that in the spirit of friendship, we are negotiating with Greece the Flight Information Region line, territorial waters, and islands in the Aegean. Are you aware of this statement? This is exactly how it was conveyed to me, because they sent me an Anadolu dispatch, and if you are aware of it, I would like a comment please. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: The statement was phrased differently in the Turkish and English versions of the Anadolu news agency. Whatever the case, the statement, as you read it to me, bears no relation with reality. Greece’s positions are clear. The subject of the exploratory contacts is the delimitation of the continental shelf from Evros to Kastelorizo, and that’s that. We want to see progress in the settlement of the legal dispute; progress that will contribute decisively to the improvement of the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Mr. Athanasopoulos: A follow-up question: Can you tell us what the difference is between the Turkish and English versions of the statement?

Mr. Delavekouras: No, I won’t. What I’m stating clearly is that what you read to me is not related to the reality of the situation. And any statements that suggest that there is some negotiation on anything other than the delimitation of the continental shelf – which is a legal dispute that the two countries need to resolve – bears no relation with reality. This needs to be absolutely clear, and there can be no doubt about this, regardless of any statements made by a Turkish official. The Turkish side often sets out positions that generalize and give rise to doubts. This is a communication tactic that we’ve seen in recent days in particular. This effort obviously cannot bring results. It does not contribute to the effort we are making to find a solution to the real issue – the legal dispute on the delimitation of the continental shelf – and it is just sensationalism. We aren’t moving along these lines. We are interested in substance. The exploratory contacts are in progress right now. The exploratory contacts have the clear goal of delimiting the continental shelf between the two countries, and we believe that success in this endeavor will be very important for improving Greek-Turkish relations.

Ms. Poulidou: Mr. Spokesman, I read yesterday that Mr. Van Rompuy, replying to a question, said that 20 European countries have offered to help Japan. Greece is not among those countries. Do you know whether this is a statement of availability or is some offer being made?

Mr. Delavekouras: I don’t know what list you are referring to. Greece has offered assistance to Japan, and this offer has been set down in the official briefings made by the Japanese government. We are prepared to offer assistance, which will naturally be offered based on requests made by the Japanese side and needs on the ground.

Ms. Poulidou:  I am referring to the list issued by the EU.

Mr. Delavekouras: Greece is on the Japanese list. I don’t know if something has been omitted from the European list, but in any case Greece has offered to provide assistance. We are on alert to do this, and within the day we can be in a position to announce the assistance we will provide. But, I repeat, this depends on the requests made by the Japanese side.

Ms. Tsiblaki: Mr. Spokesman, I would like to ask you whether the Foreign Ministry committee has completed its proceedings on the NGOs, and whether there have been other cases where the heads of NGOs claim to have received sums other than those provided to them. And whether the documentation exists or has been destroyed after so many years.

Mr. Delavekouras: The audit has not been completed, but as soon as we have the results, which will be announced officially in Parliament, we will notify you.

K. Tsiblaki: Is the end of March still the date?

Mr. Delavekouras: Yes.

Ms. Peloni: I would like to ask, following from the question on Mr. Arinc, about Mr. Davutoglu’s visit to Greece. You said that the Turkish side often presents its positions from a communication-oriented approach. Would you put Mr. Davutoglu’s visit within that framework? Given that there were three announcements 24 hours before and after his departure from Greece – two from you and one from Mr. Petalotis – on Kastelorizo, on casus belli and on the minority in Thrace. What is your assessment? Was there some result? And if it was a communication-oriented approach, at least from the Turkish side, why did it happen now if there wasn’t something to announce?

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, regarding the visit itself, we need to say that it took place at a time when, as you can understand, we couldn’t expect major results. Turkey is in the run-up to elections right now. This is a fact. And, for our part, we really are waiting to see faster progress after that. Beyond that, however, we need to make it clear that the Turkish side, at this specific time, decided to make an essentially very intensive communication effort. We had constant statements, throughout the Turkish Foreign Minister’s stay. The Turkish side states its positions. They are positions that we are aware of, and positions to which there are very clear and strong replies from the Greek side. The Greek side moves based on and with respect for international law, and that is what makes our positions strong. And at every opportunity we state these positions in a clear manner. But we do not have a communication-oriented approach to the handling of Greek-Turkish relations. What we want is to see real progress, and real progress will come from the consultations we are carrying out, from mutual understanding of each other’s positions, and certainly with respect for international law and Greece’s sovereignty. That is our point of reference, and this is the framework within which we are talking to the Turkish side. We want to make progress. We have before us a Turkish government that says it wants the same thing, and we are waiting to see tangible results. This is a basic prerequisite for the normalization of our bilateral relations.

Mr. Fourlis: Since you don’t have a communication-oriented approach to these visits, and since at this specific time – in the current state of affairs – you didn’t expect results, major results, why did you have the visit? Why did you agree to this visit at this time?

Mr. Delavekouras: Because it is part of the programming we have carried out. These meetings are useful. The two Ministers have exchanged seven visits so far, and we have had many meetings at international fora. We essentially have a new tool that sets the framework for progress in Greek-Turkish relations: The High-Level Cooperation Council. As you know, the first Council meeting took place in May, in Athens, and the next one is set for July, in Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister’s visit took place within the framework of preparations for the High-Level Cooperation Council. At the same time, however, it was a very good opportunity for an overall review of our bilateral relations and a discussion of very serious regional issues: first and foremost, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Both governments have a lot of contacts there. it was an opportunity to exchange views. It is a critical situation that will impact the security and stability of our region, and that is why we think these meetings are useful – meetings with the Turkish side and with many other countries.

Mr. Fourlis: And a second question. When Mr. Davutoglu left, we got back to business as usual in the Aegean, with violations. We had a ship, a corvette, come through two days after the visit, which in practical terms showed immediately, as you said, that there is no result and no change of conduct on the part of Turkey. Nevertheless, you persist in saying that while you originally said there were no results, that you are preparing for the High-level Cooperation Council, which is a new tool, and Mr. Droutsas said in an interview that despite the fact that we acknowledge all of these problems, we believe that there is more willingness from the other side. Can you tell us where you see that?

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, regarding the issues you raised concerning the violations and the passage of the Turkish vessel. This is precisely what we are saying, that first of all Turkey controls this situation; that you cannot have daily violations, violations that contravene international law, that are an unacceptable action that creates the risk of and conditions for an accident or even an incident. So you can’t have all of this stop the day Mr. Davutoglu arrives here and start up again on his departure. This shows that Turkey is in control of this, and the fact that we have this situation raises very serious concerns for us. These actions are counter to international law. They are actions that are unacceptable, exacerbate the climate and essentially block progress in our relations. We want to improve our relationship with Turkey, and right now we have a Turkish government that says it wants the same thing. What we are saying is that the Turkish government has to prove this in a tangible, specific manner. Beyond that, you should know – and let there be no doubt about this – that for every Turkish violation, there is an immediate operational and diplomatic reply from Greece, which always and fully safeguards our rights.

Mr. Fourlis: [off microphone]

Mr. Delavekouras: Right now we have two Prime Ministers who, when they talk together, state publicly and in clear terms that they want to improve their relations. You can’t overlook that. But this …

Mr. Fourlis: [off microphone]

Mr. Delavekouras: But this requires that we see results. We are waiting to see these results.

Mr. Sideris: The Athens daily “Avgi” (“Dawn”) wrote today that this past Saturday an Italian research vessel with Greek permission and Israeli interests, tried to lay cable for research on a possible path for a future pipeline. A Turkish frigate expelled it, gave the Italian vessel – and from there the Greek Foreign Ministry – Turkish continental shelf coordinates, and I would like to ask: First, why the government covered up this incident. Second, what coordinates Turkey gave and whether they can be disclosed. Third, whether the Foreign Ministry replied with coordinates of its own – something similar occurred with the Norwegian vessel two years ago. Fourth, whether the Italian vessel will return to the region, because it was within the Greek continental shelf.

Mr. Delavekouras: The Italian vessel did in fact request and receive, from the competent Greek authorities, the permits provided for by international law. The vessel’s mission was to carry out research for charting a course for laying a fibre optic cable linking Italy with Israel. The Italian vessel was harassed, in violation of international law, by a Turkish corvette, and there was an immediate reaction from the Foreign Ministry: a demarche was made by our Embassy in Ankara.

Mr. Sideris:  The demarche is the equivalent of expulsion? And you didn’t answer me about the coordinates they gave, saying that it was the Turkish EEZ or continental shelf – I’m not sure what the case was – and third, whether the vessel will return to where it was.

Mr. Delavekouras: I repeat that this action on the part of Turkey was illegal, and that is why there was an immediate reaction from the Greek side. The demarche that was made stated in a clear manner Greece’s positions, which are based on the provisions of international law. Our position is crystal clear, and we acted directly to clarify to the Turkish side that its actions are illegal. And at the same time we clearly expressed our own positions.

Mr. Sideris: Given that the incident took place below Kastelorizo, do you think there might be escalation?

Mr. Delavekouras: I repeat, we know Turkey’s positions and we consider unacceptable the fact that this harassment took place. Greece’s positions cannot be weakened by any Turkish action, precisely because Greece’s positions are based on international law and we defend these positions whenever necessary, in all cases, without exception. This needs to be clear to everyone.

Ms. Kourbela: Mr. Spokesman, I want to ask two questions. The one concerns the EU-Turkey readmission agreement. From what we’ve learned, Turkey does not accept the transit issue: that is, that persons who pass through Turkey – and come to Greece and the rest of the EU – must be repatriated.  If this is the case – and this is the most important thing in the agreement – what is Greece’s reaction and how are the negotiations progressing on the signing of this agreement? The second question concerns Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou’s visit to Berlin today, heading a Greek delegation. It was said when a German delegation was here that a joint fund would be started for SMEs. What’s happening with that fund, and what will they discuss in Berlin regarding Greek-German economic relations? Thank you very much.

Mr. Delavekouras: The readmission agreement negotiations have been completed between the EU and Turkey. The text has been finalized and satisfies Greece and the positions we set out. We think that it will be a very major step when this agreement goes into implementation, precisely because it will help towards better EU-Turkish cooperation on dealing with this problem, which is European and not Greek. We are talking about Greece and the main entranceway to the European Union. Greece is the country where 90% of arrests of illegal migrants entering the EU take place, so this is a very important agreement. This agreement expressly provides for a readmission process for everyone who enters the European space – Greece – illegally. And there is a specific article that provides for full implementation of the bilateral agreements Turkey has with EU countries during the transition phase of the implementation of this new EU-Turkey agreement. As you know, Greece has a bilateral agreement with Turkey, so the Greek-Turkish agreement now comes under the EU umbrella.

Regarding the second question you raised, the discussion taking place with the German side concerns the offer of know-how from the competent German agency to the Greek side. These discussions will take place on 17 March in Germany, and we will see what develops.

Mr. Blaveris: Mr. Spokesman, I would like to ask whether we have any development on yesterday’s incident with Al Jazeera. I was impressed by the fact that such a well-known international news agency made such a mistake, in quotation marks, that would provoke a reaction from you, and whether there has been any move by the channel to correct their error. Was there a correction? No? And is Greece looking into the matter further? Because many times in the past Greek vessels have broken such international sanctions. That is, might there be some truth in the report? Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: The information broadcast by Al Jazeera had not been crosschecked; there’d been no effort to confirm its credibility by contacting the Greek side – either the Foreign Ministry or any other competent authority. And as such, our action was immediate and imperative, first of all to proceed to issuing the relevant announcement, as well as to inform Arab public opinion, because this was an attempt to defame the country. These actions were taken. Our embassy in Qatar took action with the administration of the channel, and at the same time all of our embassies were notified so that they could issue our announcement to the Arab news media, thus informing Arab public opinion.

Mr. Athanasopoulos: Mr. Spokesman, I want to come back to a statement from my colleague, Mr. Sideris, earlier: the incident reported in the Athens daily “Avgi” – a question to which you did not reply. Why was the incident covered up? My second question is this: you referred to the fact that the Turkish side has expressed the will for progress, etc. – Erdogan has said as much. So, is Mr. Arinc out of line?

Mr. Delavekouras: As to your first question, nothing was covered up. The ship’s course was announced by Navtext. Nothing is hidden. Beyond that, the Foreign Ministry carries out all the necessary actions in every case where there is an issue, as in the specific case.

Regarding your second question, I’ve already answered regarding Mr. Arinc’s statements. I won’t go into precisely what Mr. Arinc said. The substance of the matter is that Greece is participating in the exploratory contacts …

Mr. Athanasopoulos: That’s another question.

Mr. Delavekouras: Sorry …

Mr. Athanasopoulos: That’s another question. What I am saying is that you are saying that the Turkish side publicly and privately has expressed its good intentions for there to be progress. How is it that these statements are made – that is, other things are said privately and other things publicly? And  publicly, one thing one time and another thing another time? That’s what I’m trying to understand.

Mr. Delavekouras: Yes, I say again, we’re not waiting for statements, we’re waiting for results. We are in a process of exploratory contacts with the Turkish side. We have created a strong institutional organ, the High-Level Cooperation Council, so that our relations can move ahead, so that we can find fields of cooperation, and so that we will be able to take steps forward and create a space of peace and good neighbourliness in our relations. Beyond that, a lot of statements are made. At every opportunity, the Turkish side sets out its positions. This process, this communication-oriented handling of Greek-Turkish relations can, in our opinion, create problems and misunderstandings; it can worsen the climate. What interests us is the substance of the matter. And I say again, substance means our really making tangible progress and seeing results. This is what we are waiting for from the Turkish side.

Ms. Flores: Mr. Spokesman, how many Greeks are there in Japan? How many people work at the Embassy or Consulate of Greece in Japan, and whether the Embassy’s changing cities in Japan is being considered due to fear of radioactivity, as other countries have already done. Thank you.

Mr. Delavekouras: Right now, our Embassy is in constant contact with the Greeks in Japan. As I said, we have taken some actions to make it easier for any Greeks who want to return to Greece to do so: we have reserved airline tickets for anyone who wants them. Beyond that, we are talking about 130 to 150 Greeks at this time. There are some Greeks who have already left; airports are open. Beyond that, at this time we are not considering relocating our Embassy. We are following the instructions and recommendations issued by the Japanese government, and we suggest that all the Greeks in Japan do the same, and we will see how this very serious situation develops.

N. Hidiroglou: Mr. Spokesman, ahead of the hearing of FYROM’s application to the ICJ, from 21 to 30 March, according to the information we have. I saw some references to statements supposedly made by Mr. Nimetz regarding Skopje’s attempt to archaize their history. Can you tell us more? Have these statements been recorded? Can you tell us more, because it’s very important ahead of the hearing?

Mr. Delavekouras: I have seen reportage – there are no on-the-record statements from Mr. Nimetz, so I won’t comment on that. Greece’s positions are very clear. First of all, we have a negotiation process under the UN, we are dedicated to this process and we have supported it by all possible means. We are participating and waiting for progress. We think that actions like the ones to which you referred – the use of Greek symbols – run counter to the Interim Accord, and this is obviously something that is set down at every opportunity. Beyond that, we also have 21 March ahead of us, the hearing procedure at the ICJ. It is a legal process in which we are participating with strong arguments. As you saw from the information sheet, very good preparation has been carried out. Naturally, it will be some months before we have the Court’s decision, but we believe that we have very strong arguments for stating our positions.

N. Hidiroglou: I’d like to come back to my question, if I may. You just told us that Skopje violated the Interim Accord by using ancient Greek symbols. I would like to ask this question – rhetorical, but important: Why is our country facing an application against it? Why isn’t it the other way round, since Skopje violated the Interim Accord, as you say. Why didn’t Greece take Skopje to the ICJ?

Mr. Delavekouras: We will have the opportunity at the ICJ to set out our positions in detail regarding everything bearing on this case.

Ms. Ristovska: Mr. Spokesman, I’ll continue on this issue. That is, the process in The Hague concerns the 2008 veto in Bucharest. If the decision is that there was a veto, is there a chance of Greece’s changing its stance?

Mr. Delavekouras: This application concerns the violation of article 11 of the Interim Accord. There will be a judicial process, and there we will have the opportunity to set out our positions in detail. I would suggest that you wait for the Court’s decision.

Ms. Tsibaki: I would like to ask whether you have information on whether the sit-in at the Greek Embassy in Rome has ended, given that the group of anarchists who took over the building talked to the Italian police.

Mr. Delavekouras: I don’t have anything new on that. I will have to check and I will include it in the transcript of the briefing. [After intensive efforts by the Greek Embassy in Rome, the building in question was evacuated on the morning of 11 March.]

Mr. Fourlis: I would like you to tell me, if you would be so kind, whether the Greek side intends to raise the matter – with Turkey, in international fora or organizations – of the construction of a nuclear power plant on the coast of Asia Minor, the Turkish coast on the Aegean, and whether you have formulated a position on the issue.

Mr. Delavekouras: This is naturally something that concerns us …

Mr. Fourlis: Let me add Bulgaria.

Mr. Delavekouras: This is something we are addressing – not just now, when we have this very serious crisis. As you know, it is Greece’s position not to have recourse to this source of energy. It is Greece’s position and it has everything to do with security. Beyond that, there are very strict specifications – IAEA and EU specifications – and these matters need to be approached by everyone with a great deal of circumspection. There are procedures in the EU, and in our opinion, we need – at this point and in the light of the developments we have in Japan – to carry out a very thorough appraisal of the operation of and risks from the plants operating in Europe at this time. The Prime Minister referred to this in his speech yesterday, and it is also something we will discuss more broadly in the European Union.

Mr. Gogas: As you said that we all need to approach this issue with great circumspection, I would like to ask whether yesterday’s statements from Mr. Erdogan – that there is no investment without risk, referring to the Akkuyu nuclear plant – are within such a framework.

Mr. Delavekouras: I think that the developments in Japan speak for themselves on this matter. We’re not talking about operational risk here. We are talking about very serious risks that go beyond Turkey’s borders and touch our whole region. For that reason, I repeat, such plans need to be approached with very, very great circumspection, and in any case there are procedures, there are specifications, that need to be implemented very rigorously. That is why, I say again, Greece will, with its partners in the EU and internationally, look into the possibility of an appraisal of the operation of all plants, so that we can really know what dangers we are looking at.

N. Hidiroglou: Sorry, I’ll stay on this issue. I remember that during the 1990s the Greek government launched a campaign as soon as the initial Turkish plans for building a nuclear plant at Akkuyu became known. The Foreign Ministry issued a relevant pamphlet and our strategy was to publicize our objections, as a country, internationally with regard to the creation of this plant that, I note, is very close to a major seismic fault. Does the Greek government intends to move ahead to internationalizing its position regarding this specific subject – I don’t think the position has changed, and I think it is made stronger by the events in Japan –  to inform international public opinion regarding the dangers involved in constructing the Akkuyu power plant?

H. Poulidou: I’d like to add something. You said before that it was Greece’s choice not to use nuclear energy, but when it is surrounded by the plants at Belene, in Bulgaria, and the two reactors at Kozloduy, it is threatened by Berlusconi’s plans and threatened by Turkey’s Akkuyu, Greece’s choice is weakened in the end, because around it, in an earthquake-prone region, it will have nuclear energy. So the question is whether Greece intends to take an initiative, underscoring the seismic character of the region, for the safety of installations that are either functioning or are to go into operation.

Mr. Delavekouras: First of all, I think that the crisis in Japan right now speaks for itself. We have a huge disaster and an even greater danger for the whole region and for the whole world. This is exactly what we are putting forward, and not just now. Greece’s stance was clear even before, regardless of the crisis we have right now at the nuclear plants in Japan. Our opinion is that the very strict specifications that exist for countries who choose this path need to be met, and that whatever happens, a very detailed inspection needs to be carried out at all installations in operation, precisely so that we can confront the issues that you raised.

H. Poulidou: But you talked about specifications and … You linked it, if I understood correctly, with the EU, while we are not talking about an EU country.

Mr. Delavekouras: We are talking about a country that is a candidate for EU membership.

Mr. Fourlis: But there is no binding commitment.

Mr. Delavekouras: No, no. As a candidate country, Turkey is obliged, through the accession negotiations, to meet the specifications and confer with the European Union thoroughly and in an ongoing manner regarding its legislation and the rules therein contained, including with regard to the energy sector and the nuclear technology sector. Turkey needs to gradually bring itself into line with European regulations. In any case, there is the IAEA, which also has specific procedures and specifications.

Mr. Fourlis: A last question on the Skopje issue. Despite our knowing what the Greek government’s position is and what occurred at the NATO Summit Meeting – this has been recorded officially by NATO; that is, that there was not a Greek veto, but a unanimous decision. The question remains of why the former Prime Minister spoke publicly of a veto, just as the former Foreign Minister spoke of a veto. Are you concerned at the fact that these statements exist, ahead of the hearing at the ICJ?

Mr. Delavekouras: Look, each side will present its arguments. These decisions speak for themselves – we are talking about unanimous decisions of international organizations. That is, we are talking about decisions that require the consensus of each and every member state of the organization. I think that much is clear. So we are talking based on this fact: the unanimous decisions of international organizations. And we are saying that we need to reach a solution on the name issue. So, FYROM needs, at long last, to participate constructively in this process that already exists, and not try to exploit politically a legal process that, in any case, was apparently launched for political motives in the first place.