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Statements by Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Katrougalos at the conclusion of his meeting with the European Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union, Michel Barnier (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21 May 2019)
We had a very detailed, honest discussion with Mr Barnier. This is not his first visit. A characteristic quality of his policy as the European Chief Negotiator is to remain in continuous dialogue with member-states, with the European Parliament, as well as European societies, precisely to ensure that these negotiations will be carried out within a framework of transparency, respect for EU law and common interests of member-states. And this is how the unity of the “27” was ensured.
From the very beginning, we did not wish for the negotiating process to have a punitive nature. We did not want the message to be that any country leaving the European Union will be punished, because what we want is for member-states to remain in the European Union precisely because they feel that the European dream is a dream that we must serve for the good of the people, and of the many.
Mr Barnier ensured this unity, sought every possible way for us to reach an agreement. And indeed, we have a good agreement, which is the only one that can be accepted at this time, in order to avoid the worst possible scenario, which is the scenario of a “no deal;” in other words, Great Britain’s exit without an agreement.
We still hope for the best, we hope that we will have such an agreement which will serve the interests of the “27” but, to the extent that it is possible, the interests of the United Kingdom as well. Of course, whoever leaves a “club” cannot enjoy the same rights as those who remain in it.
Finally, during our discussion, I expressed the satisfaction of our side over the solidarity that the “27” have exhibited in Ireland, as a result for their initiatives as well. Because solidarity is something we need, on the issue of immigration for example, where all countries must, as far as they are members of the European Union, respect their rights and obligations. Furthermore, we recently saw, that Cyprus is in need of the solidarity of the “27,” which they did extend, and this is what must continue to happen also on the level of EU and International Law, which constitutes the basis of all bilateral and multilateral relations.
Therefore, given all this, I received Mr Barnier and wished him all the best in his future endeavours.