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Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following his meeting with his Slovenian counterpart, Anze Logar (Ljubljana, 18 September 2020)

Friday, 18 September 2020

Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, following his meeting with his Slovenian counterpart, Anze Logar (Ljubljana, 18 September 2020)Today, I had the great pleasure of meeting with my Slovenian counterpart, Dr. Anze Logar, with whom I had extensive talks about our bilateral relations and the current developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. We ascertained that our relations are excellent. We also ascertained that we have neglected them a little. It’s been ten years since a Greek Minister carried out a visit to Slovenia, to Ljubljana. We won't let that happen again. We decided to see each other more frequently.

I also briefed him on the situation with the migration issue and thanked him warmly – and I want to do it publicly now – for the humanitarian aid Slovenia promptly sent to Greece (regarding Moria).

We exchanged views on the new European asylum system and I reiterated Greece’s positions on fair sharing of responsibilities rather than disproportionate burdening of the states on Europe’s periphery.

We had the opportunity to discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean – the Turkish moves and policies that are undermining regional stability. Both at sea – in the Eastern Mediterranean, that is – and in Libya, Syria, Iraq.

As you know, Turkey has withdrawn its survey vessel and naval vessels from the Greek continental shelf. This is a positive sign, but we have to make sure Turkey means to stick with this approach. Meanwhile, Greece, as we have repeatedly said, is always ready to enter into dialogue, but not while it is under pressure or being blackmailed. We are always ready for dialogue within the framework of international law, the International Law of the Sea, on the subject of our dispute: the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Next week, Turkey’s violations of international legality will be discussed at the European level, where there needs to be a show of European solidarity. The EU has drawn up a list of sanctions that will be brought before the Council, and whether these sanctions are imposed depends on Turkey’s conduct. It is always my hope that we won’t need to actually impose them.

We also had the opportunity to talk about the upcoming Slovenian Presidency in the second half of 2021. Greece looks forward to Slovenia’s Presidency, including with regard to the European perspective of the Western Balkans – a perspective that was launched in 2003, under a Greek Presidency, in the well-known Thessaloniki Agenda.

This perspective, which Slovenia can encourage and facilitate during its presidency, will be strengthened by the agreement signed in the U.S. by Belgrade and Pristina on the normalisation of their relations. We support the relevant dialogue being carried out under the facilitation of the European Union, and I assured my colleague that we will continue to work together closely on these issues during the Slovenian Presidency, as well as before the presidency starts.

Obviously, we talked about Covid and the European effort to respond to the great challenge the pandemic poses for our societies. We agreed that there must be common rules and that the present situation is untenable, as it creates enormous problems for communication between states and peoples. As usual, major problems require a unified European response.

Finally, during our meeting, I had the pleasure of expressing our stance – and you will allow me to do it here, too, in the presence of the news media – on a Slovenian request to join the Mediterranean initiative, what has been, until now, the MED7.

From here on, Greece will fully support the Slovenian positions, this Slovenian request. And I told my friend the Minister that I am at his disposal to facilitate this particular request.

Greece wants Slovenia, a country in a strategic position between Central Europe and the Balkans, to become a member of this initiative, and I hope that, by the next time I’m in Ljubljana, we’ll be calling it the MED8.

Thank you very much for your hospitality, my dear Anze. It will be a great pleasure to also be received at Parliament, and I must say that I hope we have the opportunity to reciprocate your hospitality soon in Athens. Of course, we’ll be seeing each other again soon. We’ll be together in Brussels on Monday.

Thank you very much.

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