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Home arrow Current Affairs arrow Top Story arrow Statement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following the trilateral meeting with his colleagues from Serbia, Nikola Selaković, and the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides (Belgrade, 5 April 2021)

Statement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following the trilateral meeting with his colleagues from Serbia, Nikola Selaković, and the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides (Belgrade, 5 April 2021)

Monday, 05 April 2021

Statement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following the trilateral meeting with his colleagues from Serbia, Nikola Selaković, and the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides (Belgrade, 5 April 2021)I am very pleased at the convening of the first trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Serbia, here in Belgrade. And I, too, thank you for your warm hospitality. I am sorry that the pandemic kept us from meeting until now in this context, but I think we agreed to meet again soon in Thessaloniki. And this is very important.

For those of you who are asking what the basis for these meetings is, the answer is very simple. I will give you an example. A few weeks ago, we held the Philia Forum in Athens. It was attended by Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and France. And the thinking was to bring together, in one place, countries that embrace the principles of International Law, including the Law of the Sea.

And I thank the Serbian Minister, because, a short while ago, in the context of our talks, he welcomed Greece’s agreement with Albania regarding delimitation of maritime zones in the framework of international law. International law is the framework: it is upon this that we are building our friendships, our relations with other countries. And I must say that it is very easy, when we are talking with a country like Serbia, given that our histories are intertwined through the centuries. We have stood by each other on many occasions and in difficult circumstances.

The prospects for developing our multilateral cooperation with Serbia are excellent. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on three sectors.

First, energy. We are seeking energy security through the creation of alternative sources and alternative routes, and in this context we support the planned Serbia-Bulgaria interconnector, which links up to the Bulgaria-Greece interconnector and, consequently, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). As you know, we already have an LNG terminal and we have started construction of a floating gasification unit, which will contribute significantly to the Serbian effort towards access to other sources. I think it is important for all of the Balkan countries to have multiple options.

Transport: We attach great importance to the pan-European Corridor X, which will link Thessaloniki with Salzburg via North Macedonia and Serbia. It is very important to have road links from the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki to the north, so that, as economies, we can capitalise on our potential for fast transport of products.

Another issue that concerns all of us is migration. We discussed it today, and we raise it publicly. Greece and Cyprus are on the front line in the Eastern Mediterranean in terms of migration flows towards the European Union. And on this, I think there is a clear need for Turkey to comply fully with the Agreement of 2016. Turkey is obliged, first of all, to control migration flows from its territory, and beyond that, it must accept returns from the EU. I think that Turkey needs to strengthen control of its borders and comply fully with this Agreement.

We also had a wide-ranging discussion on issues that concern the Eastern Mediterranean. I had the opportunity to reiterate that we perceive the Eastern Mediterranean as a sea of cooperation, and not as a sea in which to exercise gunboat diplomacy. Gunboat diplomacy belongs to the 18th and 19th centuries. It has no place in the 21st century.

And finally, we talked about Serbia’s accession to the EU. Greece has always, historically, through the Thessaloniki Agenda, actively supported Serbia’s candidacy. We believe that Serbia belongs in the European family. It belongs there in terms of values and history. Consequently, we will do whatever we can to facilitate Serbia’s accession course. This is the mandate given to me by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

My dear Nikola, thank you very much for the hospitality. I am very happy that I will soon be able to reciprocate in Thessaloniki.

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