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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs (12 September 2019)
It is a great pleasure to be here today, with a thorough sense of the institutional humility that the executive branch ought to have before the legislative branch. As we all know, there is separation of powers, but separation of powers does not mean equality of powers. There is a clear sense of the primacy of the legislative – that of Parliament, in other words – which also carries the presumption of popular sovereignty.
As you know, the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the country’s reins at a crucial time. After a decade of crisis conditions, Greece has now chosen to overcome its introversion and enhance its position in the world. In this effort, it is relying on its forces, promoting its potential, without being governed by fixations.
To meet the challenges of the times, in foreign policy and in defence of the country’s interests, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is evolving into a modern, different Ministry, with measurable goals. In this context, e-governance is a major priority, in tandem with improvement of infrastructure, of course. This improvement will be achieved through more effective absorption of European funds. This concerns both the central services of the Ministry and our services abroad.
Based on a policy of measurable goals, that include better service for Greeks abroad at our Consulates, we are reconsidering whether to maintain certain of our Missions abroad, as well as the creation of new Missions.
This restructuring is due to the fact that, beyond the traditional role of exercising foreign policy, the Ministry will be an agent for boosting openness and exports. This is a new outlook of this Government. In this context, a triptych of policies is being created – that is, Political and Economic Diplomacy, two poles that are assisted and enhanced by Public Diplomacy, thus providing new tools for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We believe that, in this way, we will strengthen our country’s image abroad overall, transforming it into the image that is our longstanding goal: that of a European, contemporary, friendly, open and innovative, tolerant and modern country.
I think that all of us in this hall agree that in reality, the key force for promoting our positions can be none other than the aggregate capacities of our homeland. And for a country like Greece, which does not have unlimited resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must function in a way that multiplies the power of our capabilities. This can be achieved:
1. By upgrading Greece’s participation in the EU and in the international organizations of which we are members.
2. Through further improvement of our relations with neighbouring countries.
3. Through strengthening our ties with the country’s traditional allies, such as the USA. We aim to upgrade our Strategic Dialogue with the USA, by extending it to every sphere of mutual interest. With France, Italy and Germany, we are upgrading our cooperation not just bilaterally, but also in our handling of regional issues. We are working with Britain for the smoothest possible transition to the post-Brexit era. We are collaborating with Russia and China, while respecting of course each country’s unique qualities and sensitivities.
4. Through cultivating ties with countries to which, until now, we have perhaps not paid as much attention as we should. Our country cannot and must not ignore emerging powers and emerging economies – opportunities for political, economic and cultural cooperation.
5. Moreover, through strengthening Greece's economic diplomacy abroad. As I already said, the Foreign Ministry’s structures have been strengthened in this area, and the holistic approach to issues of Greek exports, providing assistance to Greek entrepreneurs, identifying opportunities and attracting investments to Greece creates the best possible conditions for achieving tangible results.
6. We have to exploit all of the geostrategic advantages of our geographic position, along with our broader potential. Here, we are placing special emphasis on a number of specific programmes aimed at making Greece an energy crossroads in the wider region. And last, but in no way least:
7. Through deepening Greece’s relations with the dynamic of diaspora Hellenism. The issue of giving the vote to diaspora Greeks will play a central role here.
With these words, I would like to warmly thank the Chairman and the members of the Committee for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue.”