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Foreign Minister Avramopoulos’ statements following his meeting with the UN Secretary General (New York)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

“We had a very useful and constructive meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. As you know, this is our second meeting here in New York City, at the UN Headquarters, which points up Greece’s firm support for the Secretary General’s efforts to promote peace, security and stability in our region and the world over.

We had the opportunity with the Secretary General to exchange views on critical issues in our foreign policy and on regional developments in the wider region of the Middle East and North Africa. I briefed him on the progress in the negotiations on the name issue and on Greece’s positions, stressing our country’s strong will for there to be progress within the framework of the efforts Mr. Nimetz – whose mandate has Greece’s full support – has been making for the past 20 years. Greece has taken important initiatives in this context, such as, for example, our proposal for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Skopje, though we haven’t seen a response from the other side. We hope – and we mean this – that conditions will soon take shape in our neighbouring country that will lead to a more constructive stance on the part of its leadership.

We also had the opportunity to discuss the Cyprus issue. On Sunday, the Cypriot people will choose their new leadership. This leadership will be called upon to face major challenges. They can be sure that Greece will continue to stand by Cyprus’ side with all its power and strive for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue and the withdrawal of the occupation forces.

Finally, I want to mention our decision to inform the United nations regarding the issue of Turkey’s announcement of research in areas of the Greek continental shelf. The Greek government made a demarche to Turkey in July 2012 regarding the granting of exploration permits for areas of the Greek continental shelf to the Turkish oil company. Due to the fact that, in the intervening period since then, Turkey did not withdraw these permits – without proceeding to exploration, of course, and I would like to believe that it will not do so in the future – we considered our next step to be our notification, via note verbale, of the United Nations Organization, in order to safeguard our rights deriving from both the customary and conventional Law of the Sea. That is, that the islands have continental shelves, and that the regions for which Turkey granted permits include areas of the Greek continental shelf.

Greece wants to have friendship and cooperation with Turkey, as well as with all the countries in our region. But we want this through relations based on mutual respect and international legality, particularly where our sovereign rights and the exploitation of our natural wealth concerned, at a time when development is what both Greece and Europe are seeking.

Thank you.”