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Statements of Foreign Minister Lambrinidis and his Polish counterpart Mr. Sikorski

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Statements of Foreign Minister Lambrinidis and his Polish counterpart Mr. Sikorski Mr. Sikorski: I am very glad to have the opportunity to welcome my Greek colleague, with whom I had a very interesting discussion recently within the framework of the EU General Affairs Council.

Greece and Poland are linked by bonds of friendship stemming from WWII and the era of Greek and Polish emigration. Greece is also a very good destination for hundreds of tourists from Poland. This year, due to the Polish Presidency, I will be spending my vacation in Poland, but last year I visited Greece – Crete, specifically.

Today we had a very important discussion. I was able to better understand the actions being undertaken by Greece to fight the crisis. I gained a much better understanding of how the structure is changing and how the reforms are being carried out, and this discussion had a very substantial outcome. I also set out the priorities of the Polish Presidency and received the full support of the Greek side.

Thank you very much.

Mr. Lambrinidis: Dear friends, dear Minister, it is a great pleasure for me to be in Poland today. I still remember with pride in Greece the day the accession treaties were signed in Athens for the enlargement of Europe and the dynamic entry of Poland into the European family. It was a very poignant moment, and today we are here in Poland, which also holds the EU Presidency. I think Poland’s will be a wonderful Presidency, and the EU needs such a presidency right now.

Great European values – such as the responsibility of each member state to all the others, and the value of the solidarity of all the member states toward each individual member state – are values that Europe needs to rediscover and embrace so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger.

The discussion we had to day – the Polish Presidency priorities that you set out for me – shows that Poland can re-instil in Europe the hope and strength that Europe needs. We will come out of this crisis stronger – more united – I am sure, with the Polish Presidency at the helm.

We also talked about issues in our portfolios, of course. We focused on many, but we agreed on how important it is to give priority to the enlargement of Europe in Southeast Europe, in the Balkans, as well as to the east in general. Greece will be at Poland’s side in this effort.

The best way for two friends to further strengthen their relations is to exchange visits as frequently as possible. So I am inviting you to Greece at your first opportunity, now that Poland holds the Presidency, so that you can present to the citizens of Greece and to the other Europeans your vision for the future of Europe. It will be a great pleasure to have you there.

Mr. Sikorski: I gratefully accept your invitation.

Journalist: Tomorrow, the Meeting in Brussels will look at issues that concern, among other things, the resolution of the crisis and the participation of the private sector. I would like to ask what Greece’s expectations are from this Meeting, and what form the future aid will take. And yesterday, during your lecture, you referred to loans and interest rates. Do you think you could be more concrete on this?

Mr. Lambrinidis: Look, as far as Greece is concerned, I would say that it is very important that it be understood that Greece has taken out loans and that every last euro of these loans will be repaid in full, and we are deeply grateful to all the countries that have contributed to this effort. Greece is obviously making a huge effort right now, with great sacrifices being made by the Greek people, who are really suffering, so that the economy can change, as it needs to.

At the same time, it is also clear that the problem Europe has right now is not a Greek problem. The assaults on countries like Spain, Portugal and, recently, Italy point to the fact that we need to confront the European dimensions of this crisis together, as Europeans. I hope that this joint, European, convincing reply will result from this Meeting.

Mr. Sikorski: I would also like to add something. Naturally, we always need to bolster countries that are having problems so that they can overcome certain difficulties. But at the same time hope needs to be given to the residents and the government, and a clear goal also needs to be set. Just as in the past we undertook very difficult reforms, we had a very clear goal: we had accession to the European Union on the horizon. Greece is making its efforts at a fast pace. The Greek government and the citizens of Greece need to be convinced that these efforts are worthwhile.

Journalist: A question regarding the arrest of Hadzic: whether, following this development, it will be easier for Serbia to get candidate-country status, and whether this will be done during the Polish Presidency.

Mr. Sikorski: Hadzic’s arrest is very good news. I congratulate the Serbian government and I am glad that a clear message was sent to those criminals and anyone who would emulate them. The message we sent was, “Watch out, gentlemen, because even if it takes a long time, after you have murdered in your countries, justice will find you and you will be tried and judged.”

Mr. Lambrinidis: I think it is a necessity for the European Union to support the process for Serbia’s full accession. It is necessary, especially now that Serbia has shown in action its full dedication to the goal of arresting and bringing to justice all those accused of abhorrent crimes. We demanded this of Serbia, and Serbia met this demand. I also want to say that I am very pleased that things came to this point during the Polish Presidency, so that Croatia, in all likelihood, will sign – I don’t know where yet – the accession treaty.

Mr. Sikorski: That is probably being agreed upon right now, because the Prime Ministers of Poland and Croatia are meeting as we speak.