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Statements of Alternate FM Xenogiannakopoulou, Deputy FM Kouvelis and Italian Secretary of State Mantica following their meeting

Monday, 14 February 2011

Ms. Xenogiannakopoulou: We are hosting our dear Italian colleague Mr. Mantica. Relations between Italy and Greece are warm. Our cooperation is close and constructive within the EU framework, particularly at a time when there are great challenges and very serious issues are being discussed. Issues concerning how to face the crisis, energy strategy for the future, social cohesion, an effective EU policy on migration. And also the European policy on the Mediterranean at a time of rapid political developments. We had the opportunity to discuss all of this and, naturally, our close relationship and cooperation was reaffirmed and will continue in the future.

Mr. Mantica: Having listened very attentively to my colleague’s statements – with which I am in full agreement – I would like to say that I hope this marks the beginning of strengthened talks between Italy and Greece, as well as with some other Mediterranean countries that are members of the EU. The issue of migration, the issue of Common Agricultural Policy, the cohesion policy issue, the issue of the stability pact – all of these are issues on which there are many converging views. And we need to make them stronger, defending our common positions on the European level. This is imperative for each of us. On our own, separately, it would be very difficult to achieve this, but through a Mediterranean policy it is easier to achieve these results.

Mr. Kouvelis: We had the opportunity today to talk about the prospects for and cooperation between Greece and Italy in the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, in which both Greece and Italy participate, as well as in Greece’s “Agenda 2014” initiative for the Western Balkans, which may well have very significant positive repercussions for the development process in the wider region. And I am referring specifically to the areas of the sea, the environment, energy and transport, which are of particular interest to us.

I also want to say that in the energy sector – and particularly the promotion of energy projects being promoted jointly by Greece and Italy, the ITGI, an extremely important project – we had the opportunity to discuss our next steps.

And, finally, we talked about the overall effort being made by our two countries for there to be a strengthening of economic relations, as well. Don’t forget that Italy is an extremely important trade partner for Greece – one of the most important, not just in Europe, but in the world. And we will look at where we can help to increase our cooperation in sectors such as trade, tourism, transport, energy – a series of sectors that can help.

And at the same time, together with this, there is also cooperation in the cultural sector, which links our countries traditionally and closely. There is potential here for cooperation on promoting and protecting cultural heritage, and particularly issues of illegal trafficking in cultural products.