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Excerpts from Foreign Minister Droutsas’s interview on Bloomberg TV with journalist Maryam Nemazee

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

[On the Middle East]

· “Certainly these are historic events, I would say. We follow them very closely, with concern but also with a feeling of hope and, as you said – and thank you very much for saying this – Greece has a unique position, I would say, in the region. We are part of the region, we have very longstanding traditional ties of mutual understanding, mutual respect with the Arab World and this is why I think that Greece could play a role and – allow me to say on that – because we are talking about a transition to democracy in the region, to real democracy.”

· “Certainly it will take time, we have to be realistic; it is not going to happen overnight. Changes have started, there is no way back – this is very important – but it will take time. What is most important is that we do not see any violence on that.”

· “No violence – this is the keyword for us. And a lot of support will be necessary and again the European Union and Greece, in specific, can play a role here.”

· “Politically, first of all, once again, I think Europe, the European Union, is predestined to play a major role, to help in this transition process for democracy and relations of the European Union with the Middle East must be strengthened. We have to play here a real active role. In economic terms, again, here Europe must also support and convince about this – also on economic terms, to give, to lend the necessary support to this movement.”

· “Greece has a difficult position in that, geopolitically, geostrategically, if you want. We have unfortunately more that 90% of all the illegal migrants who come to Europe via Greece, via the Turkish-Greek borders. This is a big problem and we are taking the necessary measures on that, but we have to point out this is not a Greek problem, this is a problem for Europe. We see this also with developments in Italy in the past days, so we have to show solidarity here, the whole European Union, on that.”

[On the program for utilizing public assets and the statements of Troika representatives]

· “First of all, this is a decision taken by the Greek Government. This is an initiative we have taken – a part of our restructuring program – to make the best use, optimal use of our assets. Now, there has been some sort of misunderstanding – let me put it this way – with the representatives of the Troika, but we have been in contact with all the necessary personalities and responsible people, and I think we have sorted things out so that such kinds of things will not happen again.”

· “But to avoid any kind of misunderstandings, […] cooperation with the IMF and the European Union is very intensive.”

· “This is a program set up and decided on by the Greek Government and I think it is obvious that the Greek Government will make sure and will also set the principles for how to implement this program.”