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Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Kotzias, following the proceedings of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (Luxembourg, 16 April 2018)
Today we had a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. We talked about the situation in Syria. From our part, we underscored that, beyond condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, which must be complete, any sort of act of war, including in Afrin, must be condemned as well. And we also need to look at how we can protect the Kurdish population.
We then talked about issues concerning Iran and its nuclear programme, and subsequently we came to the main subject of interest to us, the Western Balkans. I explained where we stand in our negotiations with Albania and fYROM. I also underscored the need for the Latter’s leaders to understand that we can’t have negotiations via interviews and constant public statements and that they need to show due seriousness and to abide by a method that will lead us to a solution.
Finally, we discussed issues related to Russia and I pointed out that there needs to be democratic discussion on every issue we are considering and that, at the same time, the decisions we take have to be implemented. For example, many countries are pressing for sanctions against Russia, and at the same time these same countries are developing their trade with it. I showed that Greece is ranked only 26th in terms of volume of trade with Russia and 27th in terms of development of trade. Consequently, the majority of EU member states are developing their trade with Russia, beyond and apart from the issue of sanctions.
Moreover, we have to look at how we can create a climate of trust, while of course condemning any practice, whatever its origin, that violates international law. I underscored today that chemical warfare in Syria means violation of the rules of war and of the law of war – in other words, of the very last point where elements of human relations still exist – and that, moreover, in attacking Afrin, Turkey violated international law and breached the Treaty of Lausanne.