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Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos’ statement at the end of the first day of proceedings of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Brussels, 13/05/2019)
G. KATROUGALOS: The Council dealt with a wide range of topics, from Ukraine and Libya up to Venezuela. We voiced Greece’s firm stance on all these topics.
With regard to Venezuela, we followed the European stance, as always, meaning that a political solution can be found through presidential elections, in a very traumatised society. Solutions suggesting external or military intervention are definitely not European. However, in terms of national interests, the most crucial point of discussion was the one concerning the recent illegal actions by Turkey in the Cypriot EEZ. The Cypriot Republic gave their opinion in detail. We and the others, like the French, supported this intervention.
Expressing my opinion, I said that a legal issue arises at the same time, which had already been broached with the European Council’s decision in March 2018, very clearly asking Turkey not to proceed with any illegal actions and with its own interpretations regarding the law of the sea, which no one else follows. Apart from the legal issue, there’s also the issue of credibility. What happens once this violation has been established? How will the European Union respond? And there’s also an evident issue of solidarity. I stated the obvious, that the Hellenic Republic is standing by the Cypriot Republic with all means available, and the European Union should also act accordingly. I believe this message was accepted by all, unanimously, without any difference of opinions, precisely because it reflects previous decisions by European bodies. We are remain in contact with the Cypriot Republic to best coordinate our actions.
JOURNALIST: Minister, were there any reactions to your intervention on the issue of Turkey’s provocativeness? Any statements from the partners?
G. KATROUGALOS: As I’ve stated, this was discussed during the "a.o.b." segment, so the discussion was not in-depth. But, those who expressed opinions expressed them positively. The High Representative herself reiterated her well-known positive statement in the spirit of March 2018 and noted that, at the moment, what Europe does not need is yet another new source of crisis.
JOURNALIST: Was there any mention of the issue with the Western Balkans after the Tirana Conference?
G. KATROUGALOS: This was discussed, but under a different light. I do not want to mix those two issues because, as I’ve already stated, the range of today’s discussion was very wide. We wanted to focus on what we considered to be crucial nationally at this juncture. Thank you very much.