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Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, following his meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres (New York, 23 May 2018)
N. KOTZIAS: Today we met with the Secretary-General of the UN. I thanked him for all his initiatives that promote global peace and equality. We talked about the future negotiations on the Cyprus issue and how those negotiations need to be prepared, and he asked me where, in my opinion, the negotiations on the name issue stand.
JOURNALIST: What does he intend to do on the Cyprus issue? Will he be appointing a special Advisor soon?
N. KOTZIAS: He has made a proposal that has yet to be accepted by Turkey. It remains to be confirmed. I told him I don’t know the Advisor he is proposing, but that I have faith in his choice and judgement.
JOURNALIST: So you are probably waiting until after the Turkish elections.
N. KOTZIAS: We won’t be starting negotiations before the Turkish elections or before we finish with other negotiations. We can’t do everything at the same time.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, the Skopje side claims that we are at the end of the road.
N. KOTZIAS: They just need to show this tomorrow.
JOURNALIST: How optimistic are you about tomorrow, Mr. Minister?
N. KOTZIAS: Look, I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but I have the will to find a solution. And the other side has to have the pragmatism and realism to find a solution. Solutions are based on compromise. I know that many forces in the two societies would prefer solutions that would ideally suit them exactly, but there are no such solutions in international relations.
JOURNALIST: Can you explain tomorrow’s procedure to us, the two days of meetings?
N. KOTZIAS: We’ll see if there will be two days. Tomorrow we will continue – we have divided the negotiation into two parts. There are the negotiations being carried out by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which concern the central political issues, and there are the negotiations, this time, on the rest of the issues, regarding the general agreement we have set down and proposed, into which we have also incorporated the list of legal issues given to us by the UN. So we will have one set of negotiations conducted by the experts, and another by the Ministers. The main negotiations, of course, the ones that interest all of us, are the negotiations between the Ministers. But the negotiations between the experts will facilitate the whole package.
JOURNALIST: Under Mr. Nimetz? Not one on one?
N. KOTZIAS: Only the meeting between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is under Mr. Nimetz. The technical negotiations are a process based on the text we have submitted.
JOURNALIST: Minister, following your visit to and meetings in Washington, how would you sum up American foreign policy on Greek issues at this stage?
N. KOTZIAS: Over the past three and a half years, while I have been the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Greece’s position has improved. Everyone knows that Greece is now an international player that is taking initiatives in the region, putting its mark on the region, and as a result it is of greater and greater importance to all of the powerful players in the world.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Kotzias, do we expect Mr. Nimetz to submit a proposal tomorrow that is a synthesis of all the proposals submitted by the two sides?
N. KOTZIAS: No, we have made a synthesis all of the proposals, but the matter of the name remains pending.
JOURNALIST: So we aren’t waiting for anything from Mr. Nimetz?
N. KOTZIAS: We expect his wisdom during the negotiations.
N. KOTZIAS: Thank you.