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Foreign Ministry Secretary General Zepos’ speech at the 19th international symposium of the Greek Association for Atlantic & European Cooperation (excerpts)

Monday, 20 December 2010

The following are excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Yannis-Alexis Zepos, the Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the 19th international symposium of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation:

· The Lisbon Summit Meeting was historic in that it adopted the new Strategic Concept, decided on the initiation in the first half of 2011 of the gradual process of transferring responsibility for security in Afghanistan to the Afghan authorities, and marked a new beginning in NATO-Russia relations. The heads of state and government of the Alliance member states will have the opportunity for an initial assessment of the Lisbon decisions at the 2012 Summit Meeting in the U.S.

· The new Strategic Concept endeavours to systematically clarify the principal security challenges of the coming decade and NATO’s goals during that time. The list of security challenges in the new Concept is not necessarily exhaustive, as we cannot categorically rule out the emergence in the future of some other threat that is not visible at this time.

· The new Strategic Concept stresses that the European Union is a key partner of NATO. Greece is in favor of strengthening NATO-EU relations. The Greek side has submitted specific proposals for promoting practical cooperation between NATO and the EU through an organization-to-organization approach. We support the efforts of the EU High Representative and the NATO Secretary General to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations, on the condition, of course, that no member of the Union be excluded from this cooperation. The problem in NATO-EU cooperation derives from the fact that Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, blocking the latter’s accession to 11 international organizations.

· The new Strategic Concept reflects the innovative idea of the team of experts for shaping a new concept for establishing a sincere strategic partnership with Russia based on a common vision and shared goals. The new concept points out that NATO’s cooperation with Russia is of strategic importance, given that it contributes to the creation of a common space of peace, stability and security. The Alliance, which is not a threat to Russia, is endeavouring to shape a real strategic partnership with Russia. NATO is determined to strengthen political consultations and practical cooperation with Russia in fields where mutual benefits are identified, including the sectors of anti-missile defence, the fight against terrorism, combating narcotics in Afghanistan, and the fight against piracy.

· Despite the current, difficult economic, social and political state of affairs, Greece will not withdraw its contribution to strengthening security beyond its borders and to confronting globalization-related problems at their source.

· Greece will continue – with the seriousness and decisiveness with which it exercises its foreign policy and security and defence policy – to play a role in international organizations commensurate with its history, its geostrategic importance and its capabilities.

· Greece will continue to broaden and deepen its ties with NATO and promote the view that respect for the principles and aims of the UN Charter – which is the legitimizing basis for NATO activities – compliance with international law, and the Alliance’s non-divergence from the principles governing the institutional operational framework and good neighbourly relations can contribute decisively to the effective implementation of the new Strategic Concept in all its facets.