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Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos’ interview with the newspaper “Kyriakatiki Kontra News” and journalist C. Kympizi - Excerpts on foreign policy
C. KYMPIZIS: So is the government coping with the political cost of the Prespa Agreement?
G. KATROUGALOS: Our criterion for signing the Prespa Agreement was the national interest, not any potential party gains or losses. However, although it is true that there was a comparatively large drop in our rates in Northern Greece, this was not the reason for the electoral loss. I am sure that as time goes by, the essence of the Agreement as well as the financial benefits for the country will become clearer, and especially for our Macedonia, as it has taken on once again a leading position in the Balkan economic area.
C. KYMPIZIS: A few days ago, Kostas Simitis noted that he is not “ruling out
a new Imia situation”. How likely do you consider the risk of an accident with Turkey?
G. KATROUGALOS: There will be no Imia again because the current situation is radically different: The international prestige of our country is more upgraded and our diplomatic alliances stronger. Turkey is completely isolated, with its actions being condemned as illegal and provocative by the USA and the EU. In any case, given that we never leave anything to chance, we are continuing our talks on the trust-building measures, so as to defuse the tension and avert any accident due to it.
C. KYMPIZIS: How would you rate your work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
G. KATROUGALOS: I started off at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with two major items on my agenda: the country’s European policy and the economic diplomacy. I worked to form a necessary alliance of progressive powers for a
more democratic and social Europe. In the area of economy, I worked closely with representatives from the business arena, in a joint effort to boost the outward-looking potential of the economy, with quite positive results, reflected by the significant rise in exports and the signing of a series of significant agreements. Apart from the significant support from the qualified Ministry staff, I also had the chance to work with probably the most outward- looking Prime Minister since the regime change of 1974, who put his personal seal on all dimensions of foreign policy and elevated the country’s prestige to unprecedented levels. After the departure of Nikos Kotzias, I worked even closer with him and he honoured me by placing me at the Ministry’s wheel. I believe that my main achievement was the climate of national agreement vis-a-vis the challenges of our difficult neighbour in the east, but also the strategic improvement of our relations with the USA and China, which are currently at the highest level ever.