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Statement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following his meeting with Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki (16 March 2021)
N. DENDIAS: Dear Minister, welcome to Athens. It is a pleasure to welcome you today. Unfortunately, Covid-19 forced us to repeatedly postpone your visit, but I am glad it is finally taking place, albeit with the restrictive measures.
Greece maintains close and historical ties with the Palestinian people. We have been at your side in difficult moments, and we are a western country that gave you practical support when you did not have the international recognition and support that you have today.
I would like to stress this, because Greece’s stance has always been a principled stance and not one of opportunism or expecting something in exchange.
Greece wants to deepen its relations with you on the bilateral and multilateral levels. Bilaterally, we look forward to more frequent meetings, such as the meeting between the Secretaries General of our two Ministries on 12 April.
Moreover, together, we are planning to train young Greek and Palestinian diplomats at our diplomatic academy.
Finally, we are willing to offer support, provided you deem it appropriate and request it, for organizing and carrying out the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
On the multilateral level, there is always room for enhancing bilateral cooperation through the participation of Cyprus, as well as multilateral cooperation, for example, in the context of the East Med Gas Forum.
In this context, we look forward to a constructive stance. We believe that the expansion of the East Med with new members will benefit the whole region.
And of course, today – and I thank you for this – we had the opportunity for an in-depth discussion of the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will continue our discussion during the luncheon.
I had the opportunity to reiterate to you Greece’s firm stance – which has been expressed repeatedly by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – regarding the peace process. Greece is in favour of a just, viable and comprehensive two-state solution. Within the boundaries of 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and in accordance with International Law. This is why we support the peace process, and we support every effort that contributes to the resumption of the peace process.
In this context, in fact, Greece has put forward a candidate for the position of European Union special envoy for the peace process. Our candidate, Ambassador Thrasyvoulos Stamatopoulos, is an exceptional diplomat worthy of support.
It is also important for me to underscore that the agreements on normalisation of Israel’s relations with four Arab countries create new momentum in the region. We hope these agreements help to promote the peace process.
My dear colleague, allow me to interpolate something here. As I have repeatedly stressed, the fundamental principles of Greek foreign policy are firm and full commitment to international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – which Greece and Palestine have both ratified – and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
On the basis of these immutable principles, our stance on the peace process is clear. And we ask that you express your commitment to these principles beyond the issues that concern you directly, as they bear on the other issues that concern our wider region, including, for example, the delimitation of maritime zones, which we will discuss during the luncheon.
Today, I also had the opportunity to underscore to my Palestinian colleague the special importance Greece attaches to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which is recognized as a prime trustee of Holy Pilgrimage sites. And I had the opportunity to brief Mr. al-Maliki on the 62nd round of exploratory talks, which is taking place in Athens today, as well as on the general framework of Greek-Turkish relations.
As you know, Greece is coming to these talks in good faith. We hope they lead to our finding common ground based on which to resolve the sole bilateral dispute we have with Turkey. In other words, the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, in accordance with international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
I would like to take this opportunity to note that the unilateral claims by Turkey that were reported by the media recently, as far as Greece is concerned will be responded to at the appropriate time and in the proper manner, via diplomatic channels.
Finally, I outlined the political consultations between the Greek and Turkish Ministries of Foreign Affairs, which will be taking place tomorrow in Athens.
At this point I would like to add – and I have said this in the past – that I am willing to meet with my Turkish counterpart and friend Mevlut Cavusoglu, but for such a meeting to have a point, of course, it must be carried out in the right climate.
Thank you very much. I am very pleased, my dear colleague, to have you here in Athens today, and I look forward to reciprocating in Ramallah.
Thank you very much.