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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statements following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, Ivan Korčok (Athens, 21 April 2021)

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statements following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, Ivan Korčok (Athens, 21 April 2021)“My dear Ivan, it is a great pleasure to have you here in Athens today.

This is our second bilateral meeting in the space of six months, following my visit to Bratislava last October. Considering the pandemic, it is very important that we have continued to meet.

Moreover, beyond our cooperation in the context of the European Union and NATO, we have a great deal of room to develop our bilateral relations. In the economic sector – where we agreed that we need to step up our effort – in energy, in tourism. It is important that we have begun capitalizing on our potential.

Additionally, as you were kind enough to observe, culture is a sector in which there is much to be done and through which we can ensure mutual understanding between our peoples.

I would also like to thank you for your interest in discussing the migration/refugee issue, as well as the fact that after this, together with our Migration Minister, Mr. Mitarachi, you will be visiting a Centre in Attica to get a first-hand view of the situation and convey your view to the Slovakian people.

We also discussed the European perspective of the Western Balkans. Both of us have signed the letter to the High Representative, Mr. Borrell, so that a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans can be held as soon as possible in the context of the Foreign Affairs Council. It is also very important for us that, like Greece, Slovakia sees the challenge that the Western Balkans constitute for our common European Future. I hope this discussion takes place soon – in the coming weeks – because I think these countries need encouragement on their European path, and I conveyed this message during my recent visits to Tirana, Sarajevo and Belgrade. I will also reiterate it to our Montenegrin colleague, who will be in Athens the day after tomorrow.

At this juncture, I would like to publicly thank you and, through you, Slovakia for your consistent and longstanding contribution to the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus. In this context, I briefed you on the opening of the talks in Geneva under the UN Secretary General – the ‘5+1’ talks – in the effort to find common ground for the reopening of negotiations on the resolution of the Cyprus problem, from where these negotiations stopped in 2017.

But I am obliged to reiterate here, before you, my dear Ivan, that this can happen only in the framework set down by the United Nations and International Law. We cannot seek other solutions outside of this framework.

I also had the opportunity to brief you bilaterally on my visit to Ankara, as I did in the context of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday. And I repeat what we always say: that the Mitsotakis Government is pursuing understanding with everyone, including Turkey. But we must be clear: This can happen only in the framework of International Law and in the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). There are no solutions to be found outside of this framework. And of course, we hope that the de-escalation we have seen on the part of Turkey will continue – and even become more intense and convincing.

I would also like to say that we proposed to Turkey a positive agenda of specific economic cooperation initiatives, in the hope that the Turkish side will accept this and that, from there, a gradual reversal in the climate can begin.

We do not have our heads in the clouds, but we are determined to make every effort. But I say again, always within the framework of International Law and the International Law of the Sea. And I stress that our positions are based on European values and the European acquis. They are European positions.

Finally, I had the opportunity – and we will discuss this during the luncheon – to say a few things about Libya, which I visited recently. I will brief you on my visit, yesterday, to Saudi Arabia and, two days earlier, to Cairo. And it will be very interesting to be briefed by you on matters concerning the increase in tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

Again, thank you very much for visiting Athens today. Based on the content of the visit, I must say that the wait was worthwhile, but I hope that your next visit will be much sooner.”

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