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Press statements by Mr. N. Kotzias, Minister of Foreign Affairs, following his meeting with his Latvian counterpart, Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs (Riga, 06.09.2017)
N. KOTZIAS: Thank you, Edgars. Today, we found out that our opinions are closer than our two countries are on the map. We are much closer and we do share very common interests. We are two NATO and European Union member states which lie at the borders. We have a common interest in securing the borders of the European Union and in developing its security and defense policies. Secondly, we are part of this group of NATO and EU medium-size countries. We share a common interest on the future of the Union and we need to keep the latter’s institutional system working.
We also discussed, as Edgars already said, on ways to enhance our bilateral cooperation in many political fields; fields of our immediate and wider neighborhoods, such as in the Western Balkans, the Middle East, the Eastern Partnership area. We also discussed Brexit. None of us is happy with Brexit, but we now have to think on the problems that this might bring about, especially on the questions of budget, the rights of the people working in the UK and so on. We discussed cooperation on cyber-security and I believe that, on this subject, we will foster a closer cooperation in the future.
We have invited the Prime Minister of Latvia to Greece. I had a meeting with him two hours ago. We also invited the President and the Vice-President of the Parliament to Greece. And, for sure, Edgars is always welcome to Greece. We discussed ways for closer cooperation between the countries in the Balkans and the Baltic, the Mediterranean countries and the Nordic countries. I think that we have identified many common interests and possibilities for many common projects for the future.
I am very thankful for the hospitality of the Latvian government and for the good, productive discussion that we had with Edgars. We will meet again tomorrow.
JOURNALIST: There is a common desire from both countries to strengthen their relations. Could you tell us which are the most promising fields for this cooperation to move forward?
N. KOTZIAS: First, we discussed ways to enhance the cooperation between our two ministries. We both find that, whenever the Ministers of Foreign Affairs discuss about cooperation, their first thoughts go to cooperation in other fields, than in the fields of their own Ministries. We found fields where Latvia has much more experience and knowledge and fields where we have to share our experience, such as the Middle East, the Balkans and specifically the Western Balkans, the question of the Eastern Partnership and so on. We agreed on a program of meetings between our Political Directors and Departmental Directors, as Edgars already said. Second, we discussed ways of cooperation in other very important fields, such as cultural cooperation, cooperation between universities, research and educational cooperation, economic cooperation. We also had a long discussion about energy and transport. From my part, I was impressed by the variety of common interests we identified and the possibilities for cooperation that lie ahead.
JOURNALIST: Are you happy with the current levels of response and support that countries like Latvia and other countries in the northern Europe are giving to Greece with regard to migrant and refugee flows, or could they do more to help you out?
N. KOTZIAS: I am happy with the support of Latvia. I am not happy with everybody.