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Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias' statements and responses to journalists' questions following his meetings in New York (New York, 6 January 2017)

Saturday, 07 January 2017

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias' statements and responses to journalists' questions following his meetings in New York (New York, 6 January 2017)My one-day visit to New York can be considered a success on many fronts. A number of meetings took place with Greek American and Cypriot American organizations as well as with the Jewish lobby.

My meeting with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu took place this morning, and we discussed Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issues, without our being able converge in our thinking on these issues.

I met with the president of the UN General Assembly and, later, the UN Secretary-General, with whom we discussed mainly the Cyprus issues and the Greek views and positions, because the system of guarantees must be eliminated, there cannot be rights of intervention for any country in Cyprus, and foreign armed forces must be removed -- first of all the Turkish occupation forces.

I also saw a large portion of president Trump's new administration team. I met with the National Security Advisor, Mr. Flynn, and his deputy. I saw the president's Chief of Staff and a number of Greek Americans who are close to his team.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, would you like to comment on Akıncı's letter to the UN Secretary-General?

N. KOTZIAS: I think all of this concerns the problems of the non-acceptance by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community of the fact that President Anastasiades -- in accordance with international law and the recognition he has from the UN and all of the international organizations -- is the President of the Republic of Cyprus and is participating in the Geneva conference in the double capacity of President of the Republic of Cyprus and representative of the Greek Cypriot community.

JOURNALIST: What sense did you get from the meetings you had with the Trump team, not just on the Cyprus issue, but regarding Greek issues in general?

N. KOTZIAS: A large portion of Mr. Trump's team are also Greek Americans who have a full knowledge of and insight into Greek problems. I didn't talk with the Trump team so much about matters concerning the Cyprus issue as about Middle East issues, the stability and security policy the Greek government is following, the trilateral cooperation configurations we are forming in the Middle East, the Rhodes security structure and spirit, as well as the cooperation we are creating on protection of religious and cultural communities of the Middle East.

JOURNALIST: Did you discuss the economy issue with Mr. Flynn.

N. KOTZIAS: No. What I discussed with Mr. Flynn is that, in the coming time, as soon as the new Trump administration is sworn in, there will be invitations for a visit from me, on foreign and international policy issues, and from the finance minister, on issues having to do with the IMF, the debt crisis and the handling of these issues.

JOURNALIST: What is your assessment of the reaction of your colleague the Turkish Foreign Minister? What direction do you see us moving in next week and -- depending on your assessment -- do you see Turkey as being prepared to move ahead on the guarantees?

N. KOTZIAS: That is a decision that will be made by President Erdogan regarding how he will handle it. What my colleague Mr. Çavuşoğlu and I agreed on is that we have to come up with even more thoughts. We didn't approach any convergence during the discussion, and, moreover, we also need to seek the criteria to be used in dealing with such issues.

JOURNALIST: To what extent can Greece support Cyprus until the very end? It has its own problems.

N. KOTZIAS: Greece always supports and will support Cyprus until the end, with the criteria of the interest of Cyprus itself and of the Cypriot people. On the issues that have to do with Security, namely guarantees, rights of intervention and the presence of the occupation army, we are opposed, and this is a policy we have followed consistently since taking office.

I remind you that the first time we talked about this was my first visit to the UN, in April 2015. What I want to say is that, while in the past negotiations of 2004 and 2008, 2009 there was never systematic work on the elimination of the guarantees, the rights of intervention and the complete departure of the Turkish army, thanks to the fact that we opened up this issue in a timely manner, as soon as we took office, today it is considered a given that we at least need to discuss these matters and consider -- each of us -- whether we are in favour of or against their elimination. It is now an issue that cannot be taken off the agenda. I consider this a Greek foreign policy success.

Thank you very much.