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Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry (Athens, 15 September 2020)
Today, I have the great pleasure of once again welcoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt – and, if I may say so, a friend of mine and a friend of our country – Sameh Shoukry to Greece and to Athens.
My Egyptian colleague and I discussed the latest developments in our region, following the signing and entry into force of the historic agreement between Greece and Egypt on the partial delimitation of our maritime zones. This happened about a month ago, and I don’t think I’m saying anything new when I tell you that the role of Mr. Shoukry, the role of Sameh, in concluding this agreement was decisive. Thanks to him, thanks to President Sisi, and thanks to President Sisi’s relationship with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, we were able to resolve an issue that had been pending for over 15 years.
Precisely because it is a partial delimitation, today we had the opportunity to discuss how we will resume our negotiations to conclude this delimitation.
As you know, this agreement resulted from negotiations in good faith and constitutes an exemplary model of implementation of international law, an exemplary model of implementation of the Law of the Sea, an exemplary model of respect of the principle of good neighbourly relations between states.
It is an agreement that contributes to stability and the exploitation of resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. In other words, it is exactly the opposite of Turkey’s null and illegal memorandum with the Government in Tripoli, which attempted to arbitrarily create contiguities that defy the map and geography.
I presented to the Egyptian Minister the situation concerning Turkey’s recent escalation in hostile actions and rhetoric.
Rhetoric that is not directed at Greece alone. It very often targets Egypt and President Sisi personally, Cyprus and the other countries in the region.
I also stressed that Ankara’s calls for dialogue cannot be taken as anything more than mere pretext when accompanied by threats against Greece and other countries.
On our part we remain calm, collected and prepared. Calm and collected, so as to avoid the traps of escalation. And prepared to defend our sovereignty and our sovereign rights.
We have said repeatedly that our country does not blackmail anyone. At the same time, it shall not be blackmailed by anyone.
And we have also said in every tone that we are willing to participate in dialogue; in dialogue with Turkey on the delimitation of the continental shelf and the EEZ, provided that the illegal acts, the threats and the blackmail come to a definitive end.
Because there can be no dialogue under threat or blackmail. I want to say that the departure of the Turkish survey vessel “Oruc Reis” was a positive step, but one that I was sad to see accompanied by menacing rhetoric.
In any event, having recognised this positive step, we expect Turkey to show consistency and continuity in its actions, in a positive direction, so that talks can be initiated.
In other words, Turkey needs to leave behind practices and rhetoric that belong in other eras. It needs to leave behind what we call gunboat diplomacy and proceed to a dialogue in good faith within the framework of international law and with respect for good neighbourly relations.
Beyond that, I had the opportunity to discuss with my Egyptian friend about our next steps in the Eastern Mediterranean and the necessary coordination between us.
We, thus, discussed on the progress in the trilateral cooperation mechanisms in our region; on ways to further deepen and develop these mechanisms. The establishment of a permanent secretariat in Nicosia will contribute in this direction, as well as in the direction of expanding this cooperation into new sectors.
Greece and Egypt, in close cooperation, are making ongoing efforts to consolidate peace and stability in this turbulent region of the planet.
Recently, we welcomed the agreements normalising the relations of the state of Israel with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which will be signed in Washington in a few hours.
We are certain that these steps will contribute to turning the Middle East into a space of peace and prosperity.
Finally, we looked closely at the situation in Libya in light of recent developments. We agreed that the situation in this country remains very fragile and that any solution must be Libyan owned, without intervention from third parties in the region.
Today, we had again meaningful and substantial talks on a wide range of issues that concern both countries.
As I said, it is always a great pleasure to meet with my dear colleague and friend and to welcome him to our country.
Sameh, thank you very much for your visit and, again, welcome to Athens.