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Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Kotzias, and Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media, N. Pappas (Athens, 11 October 2018)
N. KOTZIAS: Let me say good morning to everybody, and let me thank you for being present. I would first of all like to thank the Ministry of which my friend Nikos Papas is the head, as well as the Minister himself, for the bold and kind help extended to our Ministry so that we can upgrade our telecommunications and facilitate the transfer of images as well as video-teleconferencing among our Ministry's authorities, domestically and abroad; and to make our internal correspondence even more secure, both inside the country as well as with our authorities abroad.
I would also like to say that today is an important day for us, because we are concluding a memorandum of cooperation with a Ministry that is relative to us – i.e. that is digital and, thus, with a global reach - and also because it proves how right the Prime Minister and the Government were in establishing a special Ministry for digital technology. I believe that our Ministry will be one of the first - not the first, I am aware of this - but one of the first nonetheless to greatly benefit in this regard.
I would like to add that this will also assist us in developing our consular services - we have anticipated that - because it will facilitate applications to be made to the Consulates on the part of Greek citizens remotely, so that they don't need to travel back and forth from the various regions of each country to the Consulates themselves.
Additionally, it will facilitate the economic activities under the supervision of the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Katrougalos, and the Secretary General for International Economic Relations. Thus, businesses and social partners will enjoy direct access to commercial attachés abroad, as well as communication and information.
Consequently, it is yet another upgrading measure for the work of our Ministry, and more generally of the public sector. And I will leave it at that. I don’t know if anyone expected me to talk about other things. I shall not. This is very clear.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs should not talk too much, so that he is heard when he does speak.
Thank you very much, Nikos. Welcome.
N. PAPPAS: Thank you very much. That, dear Nikos, applies to all Ministers, I believe. Isn’t that right? It shouldn’t just apply to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I believe that all Ministers should be cautious when they speak, precisely so that the public pays attention to what they say at all times.
I am happy to be here. I would like to thank you for your kind words.
The decision by the Prime Minister to establish a Ministry of Digital Policy was more than warranted, I believe. It has in fact sped up the work of digitally restructuring in the public sector.
I am very pleased that we are concluding the memorandum of cooperation today. I believe that videoconferencing provided to our consular authorities and our embassies will enhance the work they will do; they presently do excellent work, but the potential of technology will have a multiplier effect.
And let me say that we already have a very close collaboration on an official level, so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can proceed with being one of the first to install the systems for electronic transfer of documents. It is a system which we have installed at the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media. And let me update you that we are also on the verge of completion of the tender for the electronic transfer of documents for the entire public sector; it is an extraordinary project - allow me to say a few words about it - which will first of all save hundreds of millions for the public sector annually and, second, it will make the work of public servants more efficient, and chiefly, I would say - and everyone will concur - that of the political leadership.
We also have other levels of cooperation, and I believe this is significant also for the development of an independent platform via the Greek satellite with our Consular Authorities and our Embassies, and this will be very important.
Dear Nikos, I wish you to keep up the good work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the policy that you implement, especially for resolving the name issue with fYROM and the unique role that Greece can play in the new era, and I believe that this policy is at the very heart of our philosophy, as a government, for a new model of growth.
Greece has a unique place on the map. It must also resolve the problems it has with its neighbours in a wise and just manner, while developing technologies that will provide it with the ability to become a modern hub for the wider region.
A country which will guarantee the prospects of growth for the entire region. Thus, I would say that what we need is technology and wise foreign policy.
N. KOTZIAS: Thank you. Let me add something that is worth stressing: your Ministry also assists us in the financing of the project, as well as the call to tender and its monitoring, because you have more experience than us in this domain. We basically conduct diplomatic negotiations.
N. PAPPAS: Let me say that the project will be financed by the reserves of the Hellenic Telecommunications & Post Commission, and I believe this has its own significance.
N. KOTZIAS: Thank you very much.