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Article by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias in Saturday’s “Ta Nea”
Relaunching dialogue with Turkey, without concessions
In the two months since the elections, the country’s new government has already brought its foreign policy priorities into clear focus. This is evidenced primarily by the series of meetings carried out – in an excellent climate of mutual trust – by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Paris, Berlin and The Hague.
At the centre of our policy is the reorientation and regrouping of Greece’s alliances with our partners in the hard core of Europe. We mustn’t forget how these relations and, in particular, our credibility were tested in the past. In this very context of expanding our cooperation with our partners, I will be meeting with my German counterpart, Heiko Maas, in Berlin on Monday.
Rebooting Greek foreign policy clearly requires that we enhance our ties and cooperation with the countries of the Balkans. As the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis said, we want Greece to be the model of a strong European country in the Balkans, and not a Balkan country in Europe. I have already carried out a very productive visit to Bulgaria, and visits to other countries in the region will follow.
Greece wants to jump-start its relations with Turkey, as this can have only positive results. A meeting between Prime Minister Mitsotakis and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as a meeting of my own with my counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, can be only beneficial, and the High-Level Cooperation Council can impart momentum to our relations in many sectors. However, it must be made clear that we are guided by international law, which does not tolerate threats of war or unilateral claims. We will concede nothing where our sovereign rights are concerned. Another necessary condition for improvement of the climate in our relations is for Turkey to stop assailing the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus through actions that reinforce its image as a violator of international legality.
With regard to North Macedonia, we want to do everything we can to mitigate the consequences of the controversial points of the Prespa Agreement – to which our party’s opposition is well known – for the sake of consolidating a spirit of cooperation, bearing in mind our neighbour's bid for EU membership.
With regard to Albania, the mutual benefits to be gained from an improvement in our bilateral relations are obvious. But I must note that Albania continues to fail to meet its obligations with regard to the minority and property rights of the Greek National Minority.
High among our priorities is the enhancement of our country’s strategic role in the Eastern Mediterranean region, as is clear from our Prime Minister’s visit to Cyprus and my own visits, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Cyprus, Israel and the U.S. The renewed American interest in the Eastern Mediterranean is part of the same framework. Our country’s proactive foreign policy is creating conditions for closer cooperation ahead of the new round of our Strategic Dialogue with the U.S. and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Athens a few weeks from now.
Our country’s proactive foreign policy is also creating conditions for closer cooperation with other key partners, such as China and Russia.
The growth objective also requires smooth relations beyond our wider region, as a number of potential markets are opening to us, including the Middle East, North Africa and the Far East. Bolstering openness and economic diplomacy is a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affair, under which all of the co-competent agencies are now being brought together.
We are showing, in practice, that we do not favour an isolated, fearful and insecure Greece. We believe in an open and modern Greece. This is the Greece we want to promote – confidently and seriously – in an international environment rife with challenges but also rich in opportunities.