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Speeches of the President of the Republic, P. Pavlopoulos, and Foreign Minister Kotzias at the swearing-in ceremony of the 21st Class of Foreign Ministry Attachés
N. KOTZIAS: Foreign policy has days of joy, and one such joyful day is today, when I welcome our new diplomats and a young generation of people who will represent our country.
First of all, I must welcome the President of the Republic, my dear Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and thank him for all the help he gives us, the understanding he shows, and his international presence, which is the best tool for those of us who practice foreign policy.
Welcome, Mr. President, and thank you for all your assistance.
At a difficult time like the current one, the most important thing is for us to know how to use the tools of diplomacy, to capitalize on our experience. Unfortunately, diplomacy doesn’t have laboratories – only comparison with what other countries do and comparison with history.
People who practice foreign policy do not compete with others. Never look to see whether you are higher or lower than others. You must always be in competition with the problems that exist. Is our stature equal to resolving the problems? That is where we will find that we must increase our stature constantly.
It is also pleasing that in the new generation of diplomats being called to face the major problem – global problems, European problems and regional problems – we have a small class, yes, but a very good class. With the main characteristic being that they all have a deep knowledge of foreign languages and postgraduate degrees in fields directly related to international politics, and this is a new thing for our Ministry. At one time we took only people with degrees in fields other than those that the Ministry deals with. This is a huge step for our future.
I must also say that diplomacy is, for Greece – a country that champions international law – the most powerful weapon, the most powerful negotiating potential, the most optimistic message when it has such bright people before it.
And I wish you a good career!
I think that your presence here at the Foreign Ministry should actually silence me. I give you the floor, and I thank you for every assistance you give us, I thank you for your exceptional representation of our country internationally, which always gives us courage and optimism.
I thank you as a Minister and on behalf of the government, as well as on behalf of everyone at our Ministry. Welcome.”
P. PAVLOPOULOS: I want to thank the Minister. I want to thank him not just as the President of the Republic, but as a colleague in academia. Because Mr. Kotzias and I are linked by much in the academic sphere. I thank him for the straightforwardness with which he speaks at this time; a time of substance and not of protocol. That is why everything I say will be about issues of substance. And I say these things in full awareness of my role as well as your mission.
You are graduating from the Diplomatic Academy and embarking on your careers in the Diplomatic Service. A Service that is emblematic, I would say, of the history of the Land, of the Nation generally, as regards the defence of national and public interests.
You need to love your Service. Not just because this is your mission. But because the history of the Diplomatic Service shows this. If you asked older diplomats, who have finished their careers, and you said to them, “What job would you like to do if you were starting your life over from the beginning?”, they would say, “The same one.” And this is perhaps peculiar to the Diplomatic Service, which you should never underestimate, particularly in these difficult times. Be proud of the Service in which you are being called upon to serve.
You are being called upon to serve in this Corps under the guidance of the political leadership, the given political leaderships. This means democracy. Democracy means changes that the People choose. But you should be aware that, despite the changes, there are constant, unchanging coordinates in our foreign policy, in the broad sense of the term, which are linked intrinsically with the history of our People and our Nation. So you are being called upon to serve the continuity of this policy.
I consider there to be at least three of these coordinates.
The first coordinate. This so-misunderstood statement made by Konstantinos Karamanlis years ago, but which remains exceptionally timely today: “We are part of the West.” Which means that we are a People that participates in the culture of the West, in the democracy of the West, in Representative Democracy, the democracy of humanism and of social justice. Of course, our policy, and our foreign policy in particular, is multidimensional. And it needs to be multidimensional so that we can serve the public interest more effectively. It is not one-dimensional; it does not serve passions of the moment. These many dimensions arise from the power we derive from being part of the Western world, which needs at this time to move to strengthen two major goods in this world – goods that only the Western world has the power to safeguard: Democracy and Peace.
The second coordinate of our foreign policy – and of other of our policies – is our European course. Our course lies in the European Union, in the Eurozone. We will stay in the European Union. We will stay in the Eurozone. And we will strive, together with the European peoples, the peoples with whom we have shared this course throughout these years, so that the European Union can rediscover the roots from which it began and for which it was founded. The pillars on which it rested: the pillars of Democracy, of public interest and Social Justice, of the rule of law. We will fight this battle in Europe and in the Eurozone.
The third coordinate, our national issues, which have to do with our national rights. I very briefly choose three of these, which you are already aware of, which have to do with the dispute we have with Turkey, with the FYROM name issue, and, of course, the Cyprus issue.
With regard to the first two, we are guided not just by history and respect for history, but also the weapons that international law provides us with. And we all have to know, and everyone has to know, that international law is one body: written, customary and, particularly, the generally accepted rules of international law. This is our foundation. We don’t ask for anything that doesn’t belong to us. But neither will we concede anything that is based upon the longstanding rules of international law. We will defend this together with history, which no one can fabricate.
And with regard to the Cyprus issue, which, as you know, is an international issue as well our national issue, it is unthinkable for the occupation of Cyprus to continue – the occupation of a member state of the European Union – in violation of every rule of international and European law. The solution to the Cyprus problem must be found as soon as possible. And this concerns not just Greece – it concerns the whole of Europe. It is a European duty. And this solution has one fundamental parameter: That the state that arises from the resolution of the Cyprus issue must be recognized by everyone as a European state. Its structure must be compatible with primary and secondary European law. Any “solution” that would violate this European institutional acquis and set Cyprus outside of European standards is by definition rejected, not just for reasons that concern Greece, but for reasons that concern Europe itself. And anyone who proposes such “solutions” is not violating just the interests of Greece and Cyprus; they are violating European law and holding the European Union in contempt. This is a very important foundation that justifies all of the aspirations of the martyred Cypriot people and brings Europe itself face to face with its responsibilities.
I may have tired you. And perhaps everything I have said to you is completely self-evident. Because I know that you come from the Diplomatic Academy. You are demonstrably the best who entered and emerged from the Academy. But remember that you have to prove this excellence of yours in practice.
The few words I shared with you are self-evident truths. But in this land, what we are often missing is understanding of the obvious. So I will do this as long as my role and constitutional competencies allow me to. My friend the Foreign Minister and I will move in this direction, guided, as I said, by our history, by the public interest, and, in particular, by the interests of our Nation and People.
Thank you. I wish you strength and every success.