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Foreign Minister Lambrinidis’ statements following his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Foreign Minister Lambrinidis’ statements following his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Mr. Lambrinidis: We had a very friendly and useful meeting with the Secretary General, on a number of major issues to be considered by the General Assembly.

The Middle East topped the agenda, of course, along with the broader “Arab spring” and all the developments in the region – developments that are at once hopeful and, lest they go in the wrong direction, cause for concern. On the Middle East issue, we mainly discussed how important it is to Greece that a solution be found, so that there can be a Palestinian state that lives in peace beside a secure Israel. Both have rights on these issues, and we need to promote this prospect worldwide.

And, as I said, we also talked about the wider region and our concerns at the instability being created by many developments. And I had the chance in this meeting to brief the Secretary General on the latest, very worrying threats made by Turkey against Cyprus, on Cyprus’s absolute rights to exploit the natural wealth in its exclusive economic zone, and on the recent announcement from Turkey of exploration that overlaps the Greek continental shelf.

The Secretary General expressed his concern at phenomena that bring instability and phenomena that can also make more difficult the extremely important talks on the Cyprus issue, which he, like everyone else, is very interested in seeing resolved.

So, we had the opportunity for an exceptional talk, and I hope this will continue in the rest of the meetings I am going to have this week with various foreign ministers and heads of state.

Journalist: Mr. Minister, did the Secretary General ask you anything about developments in Greece, as concerns the economy and Europe more generally?

Mr. Lambrinidis: Yes, we naturally discussed the matter of developments in Greece. The Secretary General showed his certainty – as he, too, has for some time now seen the worst predicted but not come true – that Greece and Europe will emerge from this crisis. I conveyed the state of alert we are in at this time, so that we can ensure that, as a country, we are implementing everything necessary to defend ourselves in European developments – which are not always under our control – and to help Europe come out much stronger, and clearly to help Greece come out of this much stronger. Because the economic crisis has not made us pull into our shells – it has made us even more internationally oriented. In terms of external affairs, at least, we have proven ourselves to be the country of stability in the region, and the Secretary General has special appreciation for this.

Journalist: Mr. Minister, today Mr. Davutoglu made statements persisting with regard to the issue of exploration in the maritime region between Kastelorizo and Cyprus, which violates the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and infringes on part of the Greek EEZ. Should the appeals we make internationally and the demarches we make not bring Turkey round, is it among Greece’s options to block the explorations, threatening military measures.

Mr. Lambrinidis: I didn’t see the statements Mr. Davutoglu made today, and they are of no concern to me. Greece moved immediately and has already defended its sovereign rights on this issue internationally. All of the involved governments and partners are aware of where they can and cannot carry out exploration. What I have stressed repeatedly is that it is a big mistake for anyone to militarize the discussion just because Turkey wants it that way. We have solid arguments and we set them out, defending our country’s interests in the best possible manner, and we will continue to this.

Journalist: What does the Secretary General intend to do on the Cyprus issue?

Mr. Lambrinidis: The Secretary General reiterated that in October he will meet with President Christofias and Mr. Eroglu, and he expressed his concern that the recent developments, which I mentioned earlier, are obviously not helping toward the climate necessary for the speedy resolution of the Cyprus issue; the speed resolution he and everyone else desires.

Journalist: Did you discuss the Skopje name issue?

Mr. Lambrinidis: Naturally, I raised the issue. I expressed Greece’s readiness – for some time now, and its seriousness in this process – for a name with a geographical qualifier, for use in relation to everyone. I also expressed my desire for the other side, as well, to show the prudence and seriousness required if it really wants, as we do, to see its Euroatlantic prospects bear fruit, and if it wants the relations between the two peoples to be as positive as we do.

Journalist: Will you meet with Mr. Davutoglu?

Mr. Lambrinidis: I can’t answer that right now. It wasn’t on the programme, but we are looking at it.