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Statements of Foreign Minister Droutsas and his Iranian counterpart, Mr. Mottaki, following their meeting

Monday, 06 December 2010

Mr. Droutsas: I would like to welcome my friend the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Mottaki, to Greece. This visit to Athens today gives us the opportunity to exchange views on a number of international and regional issues, and to explore the opportunities that exist for developing our bilateral cooperation.

I want to stress that Greece places extreme value on the peaceful resolution of differences. It is a position of principle for us that there must be cooperation to find solutions, even for the thorniest of issues. And this policy of ours is not simply a declaration. It is a conscious choice that has manifested itself in our major national issues.

In this spirit, Greece fully supports the talks that are starting again today; talks aimed at a definitive solution of the issue related to the Iranian nuclear programme.

Our opinion is that all the sides need to have clear guarantees and gain the necessary trust with regard to Iran’s assurances vis-à-vis the peaceful purposes of the programme, as well as its smooth development to the benefit of the prosperity of the Iranian people and their neighbours.

Greece has a special interest in establishing peace and stability in our region. Within this framework, we keep the channels of communication open and pursue a sincere dialogue with Iran on all the issues, always within the framework of mutual respect and understanding for each other’s anxieties and concerns.

As a member of the European Union and the European space that is closer to the region and has excellent knowledge and full understanding of the sensitivities that exist, we are trying to help shape the European stance so that it can be as effective and constructive as possible.

I would like to thank Mr. Mottaki once again for visiting our country and for the open and sincere dialogue we had and the briefing he gave me.

Mr. Mottaki: In the name of God, a special thanks to my dear friend the Foreign Minister of the Greek government, Mr. Dimitris Droutsas, for the talks we had in Athens today. Iran and Greece are two important countries – two important regions. Our relations and consultations go back a number of years.

The mutual trust shared by our two countries and peoples is the best capital for developing relations. Over the past 30 years, our two countries have always had constructive cooperation, whether bilaterally or trilaterally, on various regional issues. Important issues like the Balkans and matters concerning other regions of the world.

We have worked together in the past to meet common challenges, such as organized crime, narcotics, human trafficking, on a quadrilateral level with Turkey and Pakistan.

We have cooperated on very important issues. We discussed and examined developments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and we looked at other regional issues. Iran and Greece have worked together in the past to confront problems in the Balkans, including Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Greece is a very important country in the European family. Greece can play a very important role in developing and strengthening EU foreign policy. In the past, Greece has supported the Tehran declaration with regard to exchange of nuclear fuel, and this is of particular value to us.

In our view, the countries participating today in the talks on the nuclear programme have room to follow a policy for resolving the issue. Over the past decade, we have had major crises in our region. I think that we should move ahead very seriously with the issue of denuclearization and follow a common policy on issues of concern to the international community.

Nuclear weapons do not solve any problem, and the only thing they bring is destruction. And we consider that all of the countries in the world – without exception – should move ahead to denuclearization. And this is the best guarantee of security.

We discussed bilateral cooperation in the economic sector. Greece can become an important energy hub for transporting energy to the West and Europe. We agreed to continue our talks and consultations and create constructive ideas to resolve regional issues.

Once again, my warm thanks to my friend Mr. Droutsas for his hospitality.

Journalist: This question is for both Ministers. We would like to hear your assessments of the prospects opening up for the talks beginning on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Mr. Mottaki
: We hope that the talks and the negotiations that are starting today will continue in a constructive manner and reach a positive horizon. Diplomats are usually optimistic. So we hope that these negotiations will have positive results for both sides.

Mr. Droutsas: Greece fully supports this new effort – the negotiation process. Greece is always in favour of dialogue, in favour of negotiations. We of course reject any other solution. We hope that these talks will be carried out in the necessary constructive spirit, that they will progress well and that we will get the desired result from this process.

And Greece – as a country in the immediate region and a country with special and historical, traditional ties of friendship with the countries of the region – is always at the disposal of the international community if we can contribute to this effort.

We stress that we want dialogue. We are always in favour of peaceful solutions, in favour of negotiations, of talks.

Journalist: My question is for Foreign Minister Droutsas. Bearing in mind the talks being launched today by the 5+1 and Iran on the nuclear programme, I would like to ask you whether, in the meeting you had with Mr. Mottaki, you advised him on anything with regard to these talks.

Mr. Droutsas
: I don’t think advice is needed. What Greece obviously does is encourage all the sides, including Iran, of course, to seize this opportunity for us to do what is best, the best possible effort in these talks, so that we can find a solution, come to a solution, a peaceful solution that we all want and that will ensure stability and peace throughout the region.

This is neither advice nor urgings. This is a desire expressed not just by Greece, I think, but by the whole of the international community.