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Foreign Minister N. Kotzias’ intervention at the OSCE Ministerial Council (Hamburg, 8 December 2016)

Thursday, 08 December 2016

Foreign Minister N. Kotzias’ intervention at the OSCE Ministerial Council (Hamburg, 8 December 2016)“I want to thank the German Chairmanship of the OSCE and, personally, the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

We form an Organization that is based on common values, but we should consider in depth what visions we have for the 21st century. We should also reconsider, more carefully, our geopolitical situation. Europe and North America are not the same players they were when we signed the Helsinki Final Act. Europe, today, is no longer the centre of the world, as it was 40 years ago. But, as then, Europe needs trust. Trust means mainly the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Trust means that we will endeavour to consolidate the Rule of Law and that we will defend Democracy and, above all, the principles of our Organization.

We consider terrorism an enemy, and we should, first of all, in Europe, sever the flow of capitals that fund terrorism. In October 2015, for the first time, all of the heads of religions, spiritual leaders, and most of the Foreign Ministers of the Middle East met in Athens, at an international Conference on the protection of cultural and religious communities. We intend to hold this Conference again in 2017. You are all invited. This time we will organize it with Austria, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. We are fighting against anti-Semitism and discrimination against the Roma.

But in order for us to exercise a better policy in the Middle East, we think that we should establish an Organization, in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, along the lines of the one we have here in Europe and North America; that is, the OSCE. We should move the structures we have created and consolidated here in Europe, since the mid-1970s, to this region, which is currently the most unstable region in the world. Thus, we think we should talk with all of the Arab countries, and Israel of course, about how we can create such an institution. We are trying to create a preliminary structure: We organized the Rhodes Conference, at which European and Arab states met and endeavoured, jointly, to set up a similar institution.

Finally, we should, as an Organization, look in depth at the migration issue. And we should always remember that we are facing such issues because of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the civil war in Libya. We should work more on dealing with the causes, rather than just discussing the issue of the refugees. It is a major problem, but its cause lies in the war, and Europe does not discuss this enough.

Final observation. I should repeat what I also said in Potsdam. I believe that it is a shame for the representatives of 67 states to meet here and not have an in-depth discussion. Instead, we read statements we have prepared. This will not be good for the resolution of future problems.
Thank you very much.”