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Speech by the President of the Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Giorgos Katrougalos, at the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Class of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Attachés (22 May 2019)
G. KATROUGALOS: Your Excellency Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all my heartfelt congratulations on your success. You are joining a Ministry which stands out in our country’s public administration.
You will serve and represent Greece, which in itself is a significant honour, and you will lead very interesting and full lives.
One of the qualities of our country's foreign policy is that it always seeks peace and respect of International Law. You will play a leading part in this wonderful battle, in an age that is especially crucial, not only for our country. Basic principles in international relations, such as multilateralism and respect for what has been agreed upon, are being challenged. From the security of a bipolar or a unipolar world, we have passed over to a great instability in international affairs in which our country, as a member of a united Europe, wishes to lead the way, to play a positive and creative role. And naturally you are familiar with the problems we face in our neighbourhood, as well as the fact that our foreign policy turns these problems into opportunities so that our country’s positive and creative role can be showcased.
So that we are not just a stable democracy, but to also export this stability. And precisely this role of Greece is recognised by all the players on the international political scene, a role which does not pertain solely to our own national interests - first and foremost it pertains to those - but also to the general course of a unified Europe in the world.
Never before has the standing of our country been so high. Never before have our relations with the major players in international politics been at such a level.
Thus, you too will contribute to all this. You will see that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a place which will be able to hone the abilities you all possess to the greatest extent possible, and I am certain that you too will do what you can to give your all to this noble cause.
Once again, congratulations and I wish you a wonderful career.
P. PAVLOPOULOS: New Attachés, my heartfelt congratulations. I wish you strength and good luck. According to a tradition which, as I must stress, was established by my predecessor, Mr Papoulias, and which I continue because I believe it is worth the effort at such moments for the President of the Republic to be near you, so I am here today once again. And permit me not to remain on the formalities. Permit me to outline a few thoughts on the role of the Diplomat today, and especially the Greek Diplomat. Some thoughts about the environment you find yourselves in, in which you will work, carrying out a mission that pertains to the defence of our Country. Our Country individually, and our Country as a member of the International Community and an integral member of our large European Family, the European Union. In the multifaceted, complex, very fluid - troubled I would say - present-day reality, the Diplomat is again called to the forefront. And they come to the forefront much more so in Countries whose role in international affairs is not proportionate to its size, as is the case with our Country. Countries that are not large in size, in population, but whose geostrategic significance, whose participation in international fora provides them with the opportunity to play a very important, complex role. There, the role of the diplomat is upgraded. And it is upgraded because in the field of political leadership many times, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the physical discontinuity of policy is observed first of all. Leaderships change. Many times, at a swift pace, to the extent that the political Supervisors are not able to have full knowledge. It is you who ensure this continuity. Furthermore, quite often, those who are in charge do not possess the required knowledge per se, because this knowledge is not the only aspect for exercising political duties. You know, great and important politicians are judged more by the collaborators they have, who advise them, rather than by what they know. Therefore, the role of the Diplomat today is upgraded, because they don’t exercise, especially in cases such as our Country, that quasi bureaucratic role we were once familiar with. Today, it is upgraded especially with regard to their capacity to provide the political leadership with meaningful advice. In addition, as you climb the ranks of the Diplomatic Corps - and indeed when you reach the top - there are cases, especially emergent cases, where perhaps you will have to make decisions.
As you realize, this presupposes a different Diplomat today. A Diplomat with personality, but with a well-rounded personality, as regards knowledge. And the areas of knowledge, which constitute the totality of the personality of the modern Diplomat, are basically three, in my opinion. There are more, but three are the basic ones: The first is a thorough knowledge of Diplomatic History. Of course, History does not repeat itself. You are aware of this. But history teaches us, and especially Diplomatic History. From what has happened, and provided that we respect the similarities, we can draw many conclusions with regard to the present and the future.
The second one, which must constitute a guide for the manner in which you carry out your duties, and the manner in which your personality becomes well-rounded, is International Relations. Present day International Relations are multifaceted. Ever more so when a large portion of International Relations is purely economic. We live in a troubled world, from an economic aspect also. Economic relations today are not as they were in the past. There is a competition, which reaches the limits of the confrontation. Economic Diplomacy plays a huge role, especially for a Country such as Greece. For this reason in International Relations, is also required a thorough knowledge of International Economic Relations.
Finally, the third area is that of International and EU Law. Because, as you are aware, your role in the context of Greece and the European Union presupposes that you possess a thorough knowledge of International and EU Law, which essentially and largely function in a uniform manner. With regard to International Law, you are aware that this too has become very technical. Beyond the fact that International Law is developing rapidly, it is becoming very technical, as is also the case with EU Law as well. This implies continuous monitoring of developments in International Law, as well as the case law of those Courts that shape the manner of interpreting International and EU Law. And I am speaking mainly of the case law of the Hague, the case law of the Courts of the European Union, and especially the Supreme Court, the Court in Luxembourg. Also, do not underestimate the importance of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. For a Country such as Greece, a member also of the Council of Europe, in an age in which Human Rights are being tried, and oftentimes the relations of States are shaped on the basis of to what extent to each State respects Human Rights. You see it in the Council of Europe, countries who do not demonstrate the necessary respect to Human Rights find themselves faced with a type of international isolation.
So, these are the three areas that must serve as your guide. You have received the basic knowledge, but this knowledge is not enough. Developments are so rapid that, at the same time that your exercise your duties, you must remain constantly vigilant. And because you will have to become specialised according to the positions in which you will serve, don’t think that you will have to just stick to this specialisation and forget about your overall education in these three fields I mentioned earlier: Diplomatic History, International Relations, and particularly International and EU Law. This is required much more so today, given that Greece is of great significance. And I assure you, I am not exaggerating, as you can see. You see the way in which Greece is approached today by the International Community and the European Union. After a difficult course, with many sacrifices that were disproportionate, Greece continues on its European course. And it is an EU Country which possesses a European awareness, much more so than other countries. During this time, you must make full use of the duties you have undertaken. Don’t forget that we have proven, as I said before, with so many sacrifices which were disproportionate, that we are aware Europeans. Others, which were not faced with sacrifices, abandoned ship. And I am afraid that they do not realise what these choices of theirs mean. But that is their own issue. You are called upon to serve Greece which has the following great advantage: I hardly exaggerate when I say that after World War II, this is perhaps that moment at which the Country’s geostrategic position is at its pinnacle. This is strengthened by the fact that Greece has a multifaceted participation in international affairs, and because it participates in all the fora of the International Community, in our great alliance, in NATO, and of course it is a Member-State of the European Union.
And you know how important it is to make full use of all those roles. Not the traditional role of simply being a member of the International Community. At the moment, at NATO for example, the Country’s position in NATO, Greece’s significance to NATO due to its stability, permits it to have a say and not to feel isolated as regards the manner in which it defends its National Issues. This is the case with the European Union as well. There is trust in Greece. Precisely for this reason, because Greece, at the moment, is a Country of stability, an important member of the International Community, a consistent partner of the European Union, a loyal ally of NATO; for this reason, Greece's role is greatly upgraded. This is the role that you are called to serve. But this role, this position of Greece more generally, is not just a great advantage. It is a duty for our Country. A duty because, given these conditions, due to the instability that exists in the region, due to the instability in Southeast Europe, mainly as a result of the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, as a member of the International Community, as a member of the European Union, is and must be a guarantor of International and European Law.
I stress to you that we must defend International and European Law. And we must defend it because it is being challenged. It is being challenged by the arbitrary actions of many in the International Community, and in certain cases by our neighbours also; and I will be clear: by Turkey which, due to arrogance or ignorance, confuses “might is right” as it claims, which does not hold true, with the force of Law, which is something very different. And this is what we are opposed to, the unhistorical, arrogant stance that “might is right,” which is destructive to them. Greece, by defending International and EU Law, counters that argument with the force of Law; Law that needs to be defended. International Law much more so requires defending, which due to its nature, due to the lack of sufficient ratifying mechanisms, does not have the necessary force. Something which does not hold true for EU law, which is better fortified. And we must do this, namely to defend International and EU law, so that we can avoid negative and extremely dangerous precedents for both the International Community and the European Union itself.
Pay close attention to what I am about to stress to you. We have not sufficiently realised that many of the plights of the International Community, and many of the plights that are also observed in the European Union, are due to the fact that we have tolerated violations of International and EU Law which has set precedents, which certain people call upon. This type of behaviour must stop. And we shall be the first ones, you shall be the first ones, who must defend this. The examples are clear.
Two brief examples: the first example is the Cyprus issue. Resolution of the Cyprus issue - you are aware that we seek the swiftest possible resolution of this problem - but there are certain basic conditions. And the most serious condition is that resolution of the Cyprus issue can only take place by fully respecting the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus has sovereignty according to International and EU Law. This sovereignty is essentially laid down by Article 4 paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union which does not tolerate occupying forces and third-party guarantees. Just think a moment if we would accept - and I don't wish to proceed further - a sovereign Member State of the European Union, but with reduced sovereignty due to the existence of third party guarantees and occupying forces. How many others in the International Community - indeed powerful countries - would be able to seek the same thing in other regions, even in the European Union! One realizes what this would mean. A second example pertains to the Exclusive Economic Zone, as is occurring presently with Cyprus. We have Turkey's arbitrary actions. Just think what it would mean for us to accept this arbitrary implementation of the Montego Bay Convention which codified, as is well-known, the Law of the Sea. Just imagine if we were to accept these arbitrary actions on the part of Turkey. How many others would be able to seek the same thing, either in the Baltic Sea or in the Black Sea? Just imagine what a precedent this would set!
We Greeks we must protect International and European Law. Because it is not possible for such precedents to be set which make the situations even more difficult on the entire planet, and more so in our large European family, the European Union, which is in need of stability and unification, and not disruptive tendencies. So this is what determines the manner in which we act towards our neighbours. This is our message to all our neighbours. Because, you know, as diplomats, you will defend one basic policy: Greece is a country of peace, but it is first and foremost a country of democracy and freedom. As much as we defend peace, we defend democracy and freedom, we defend International and EU Law, its consolidation, and its implementation. This is why we proclaim to all our neighbours in Southeast Europe, and especially to Turkey: Friendship, good neighbourliness, european prospects for all countries that are not members of the European Union, but this presupposes full and honest respect of International and EU Law in its totality. And this is what their European prospects depend upon. There are no backtracking, concessions, or compromises in this regard. Because if we do so, we won’t simply be hurting our country; but we won’t be doing our duty towards our large European family, the European Union.
In general terms, these are the positions that define your role as diplomats today. You are living in an extremely interesting period. I don’t know, as it is said, if interesting periods are the best periods for diplomats, but I do know that you chose the Diplomatic Corps not to forge a career, but much more so to defend certain principles and certain values. And it is worth for this Corps, with its great history, to have people like you, servants with national as well as European and international awareness, well-rounded personalities, and mainly people that have a sense of duty. I am certain that what I have said to you is self-evident. But I stressed these things simply because my role as President of the Republic demands that I highlight them during these crucial times; crucial times for our homeland, for our people, and for our nation. But I am certain that, with unbroken unity of spirit, we will succeed. And thanks to you, I am even more certain that Greece shall have the prospects which are befitting to it. Once again, my heartfelt congratulations. I wish you strength and good luck!