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Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency ahead of the 3rd Ministerial Rhodes Conference for Security and Stability
The Rhodes Ministerial Conference for Security and Stability, which is being held for the third consecutive year, is a special Greek foreign policy initiative. With the participation of 25 high-ranking delegations from countries of Southeast Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the UN, Arab cooperation organizations, and observers from Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia, the Conference aspires to be – for another year – a bridge between countries of our wider neighbourhood.
The ‘Spirit of Rhodes’ – as it was spontaneously named by participants – promotes a positive agenda for cooperation in a number of sectors (e.g., tourism, education, innovation, digital economy, environmental and technological cooperation). But it also aspires to evolve into something greater. In an environment of multiple challenges for the region, as well as major prospects for cooperation and joint development, this year’s Conference endeavours to lay the foundations for the institutional establishment of a new security structure in the region, on the model of the OSCE and the Helsinki Final Act.
The armed conflicts in the region – the most salient being the ongoing state of war in Syria – growing geopolitical rivalries, confronting of extremism, management of refugee and migration flows and the challenge of enabling displaced persons return to their homes, as well as matters such as environmental protection, safeguarding of historical and cultural heritage, creation of networks and strengthening of development actions are the challenges that need to be met in order to secure a more peaceful and hopeful future for the countries in the region.
Guided by the principles of transparency, solidarity, connectivity, non-exclusion, unanimity in decision making, good neighbourly relations and respect for international law, this new structure – which will be described in the Conference’s Joint Communiqué – will endeavour to safeguard what unifies the region’s peoples and brings them closer together. Rather than dealing exclusively with problems, we propose finding solutions through cooperation, trust, mutual understanding and respect for broader cooperation between our countries and peoples.
This initiative is being carried out in the context of a number of cooperation schemes being promoted by Greece. Through a proactive and multidimensional foreign policy, a bridge-building network is being created between the countries of the region. Through these initiatives, Greece’s position as a pillar of stability is being enhanced and recognized. Also being enhanced is international confidence in the ability of Greek foreign policy to promote a broader understanding for meeting the challenges of our wider neighbourhood.