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Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following the meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy (Athens, 19 March 2021)
First of all, I would like to thank the Minister of National Defence, my dear friend and schoolmate, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, for participating in today’s meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy. His contribution on the matters discussed today was invaluable, as it allowed us to see the matters we are currently facing from his point of view.
Before I talk about what we discussed, I would like, once again, to express my satisfaction at the spirit of national solidarity that prevailed during today’s discussion.
It is understandable that there are different approaches to certain issues, but it is obvious that we all recognise the challenges our homeland is facing and we always act based on national interest.
As I have said repeatedly, the government and the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, attach great importance to consolidating not only national solidarity, but also the best possible understanding on foreign policy issues.
Allow me, now, to say a few words about Greek-Turkish relations. The first issue we discussed today. Without a doubt, the most important news is the acceptance from our part of the invitation extended to me by my Turkish counterpart to meet in Ankara.
Of course, the Greek side made it clear from the outset that this visit will be carried out only if the appropriate conditions are maintained. And allow me to point out that it is useful for all Turkish officials to understand this and avoid statements that do not help the effort to consolidate a climate of good neighbourly relations. And, in fact, I am referring to the recent statements by the Turkish Minister.
In the previous days, holding the 62nd round of the exploratory talks and the political consultations, we picked up the thread of our meetings. And my visit to Ankara comes as a follow-up to those meetings.
And I want to underscore that Greece is not afraid of dialogue. Dialogue does not constitute forfeiture of sovereignty or sovereign rights. We are coming to the dialogue precisely to promote the justness of our positions.
A necessary component for continuing the dialogue is the de-escalation, the preservation of the de-escalation and the consolidation of a calm climate.
I also made a general reference to EU-Turkish relations ahead of next week’s European Council meeting. I stressed the two-fold approach Greece wants to see. Consideration of goals of a positive agenda, but also keeping on the table the prospect of adopting measures if Turkey returns to unlawful conduct.
I also briefed the Council on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue. As you know, Greece received an invitation to participate in the informal five-party meeting being convened by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres, in Geneva at the end of April. And of course, I referred to my recent meeting with his envoy, Ms. Lute.
On this issue, it is needless to say that we are in complete coordination with the Republic of Cyprus. I met with my friend and colleague Nikos Christodoulides a few days ago in Larnaca and we are in constant contact, carrying out joint preparation.
Our position, the Greek position, the longstanding Greek position on the resolution of the Cyprus issue is very clear. A bizonal, bicommunal federation based on the resolutions of the UN Security Council and on the European acquis. There is no room for discussion outside this framework.
In closing, I would like to give the floor to my colleague Nikos Panagiotopoulos.