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Foreign Minister Droutsas’ speech to the Heads of Press Offices abroad (excerpts)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The following are excerpts from Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas’ speech to the Heads of Press Offices at Greece’s missions abroad:

·       “From the moment it took office, this government has set the tone for the foreign policy it is exercising: it showed that it wants – and is not afraid of – the major changes that are necessary in this sector as well. So, an end to the inertia that only left us more isolated; and end to conservatism for the sake, supposedly, of not losing what we had; an end to the familiar phobias and syndromes of the past that enveloped foreign policy, trapping it. The world was moving ahead, and we were at risk of being left behind. And when we were hit by the economic crisis, we could see the impasses resulting from a foreign policy that had not even secured a reserve of credibility for our country.”

·       “In a year, I dare say, we already achieved much. Mainly, we redressed the equilibrium that had taken shape against us. Most importantly, we gave Greece a role and a voice again, particularly in its immediate neighbourhood: in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Caucasus, and in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece is once again present.”

·       “In the Balkans, our “Agenda 2014” has given fresh impetus to the accession perspective of the Western Balkans. Mainly, it has opened the discussion on the prospects for completion of this process with the scheduling of the EU-Western Balkans Summit to be held during our next EU Presidency, in 2014.”

·       “While we’re on the subject of the Balkans, Greece’s position on the Skopje issue has been clear and well known to everyone from the outset. We want to help our neighbouring country. We want to see it accede to the EU, and we are working to that end. And once again we address a call and an invitation to the FYROM political leadership to work with us in precisely this direction and to come to the UN negotiating table in a constructive manner.”

·       “At the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, we had an exceptionally successful Chairmanship last year, opening up new development prospects and linking them, for the first time, to the environment; to green development.”

·       “In the Eastern Mediterranean – our space of vital interest – we have, if you will, opened up the game. Our broadened relations with Israel and the renewal of our relations with the Arab world: traditional relations – I stress – of mutual respect and mutual trust, with deep roots. All of this has created a new dynamic in this region and has given Greece an increased role that everyone acknowledges.”

·       “Our positions are also clear on the Cyprus issue: a solution based on the resolutions of the UN Security Council, with full respect for the European acquis. Don’t forget, the Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the EU, and this, too, is a major success of Greek foreign policy in the past.”

·       “Greece – among the firmest supporters of Turkey’s EU accession course – will not accepts a virtual accession process in which Turkey slowly takes everything it wants from the EU, without meeting its obligations to the EU and each EU member state. Specifically with regard to this, we proposed and are discussing the idea of convening a meeting, possible on the summit level – Why not? – that will renew the mutual commitment to Turkey’s full compliance with the Community acquis, for full accession.”

·       “The idea – this proposal – is for a meeting on Turkey; the issue of Turkey and its relations with the EU; the issue of Turkey’s European accession course. This proposal is not aimed at giving Turkey, through this Meeting, an upgraded, if you will, institutional status, as some have intimated.”

·       “When Greece headlines in the major news media, its voice cannot be absent. I am among those who believe that even the most unfortunate state of affairs can be transformed into an opportunity if we handle it correctly. So let’s not hide in our shells. We will support you from Athens – at least we will try to do so in the best possible manner.”

·       “We have to accept that we come from a country that is, perhaps, comparatively small, but that is important and is worthy of much more attention in the international news media than its size would suggest. For good reasons – as with the recent Athens Olympics – or, unfortunately, bad reasons, like the current crisis. Our voice is strong, and the world is waiting to hear it.”