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Statements of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, Đorđe Radulović (Athens, 23 April 2021)

Friday, 23 April 2021

Statements of Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias following his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, Đorđe Radulović (Athens, 23 April 2021)My dear Đorđe, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to Athens today. Our meeting was another opportunity to strengthen the relations between our two peoples, which go back to the time of the Greek Revolution.

A compatriot of yours, Vaso Brajević, known in Greece as Vasos Mavrovouniotis, fought and was wounded in the Greek Revolution, and later served the newly established Greek state. And I was very pleased that you honoured his memory today at the 1st Cemetery of Athens.

This year, Greece is honouring the bicentennial of the outbreak of the Greek Revolution. Therefore, we are taking this opportunity to honour the heroes of our great national struggle.

Today, of course, our talks were not limited to our historical ties. We looked at how to enhance our bilateral cooperation, mainly in the economic sector, where there is a great deal of room for improvement.

We also talked about military cooperation. Greece is proud to have undertaken – since Montenegro joined NATO in 2018 – the protection of Montenegrin airspace, in the context of the relevant NATO mission.

And I would like to take this opportunity to announce what I told you earlier: the Mitsotakis government’s decision to establish an annual prize in the name of ‘Vasos Mavrovouniotis’, which will be awarded to Montenegrin students at Greek military academies.

We also talked about our energy cooperation. I stressed the special importance the Mitsotakis government attaches to the creation of energy hubs through the construction of pipelines and of LNG terminals in Greece, which will enhance the energy security of the countries in the wider region. I referred, for example, to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), as well as to the Ionian-Adriatic vertical interconnector.

Moreover, energy security is one of the reasons for further upgrading of our relations with Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which I visited just a few days ago and where, together with the Greek Minister of National Defence, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, we signed a number of agreements.

Regarding Montenegro’s European perspective, I had the opportunity to express our praise for the reforms the country's government is promoting, the consolidation of the rule of law and your fight against corruption.

I underscored that we support your efforts to become a member of our family, of the European Union. And I expressed my country’s readiness to provide technical assistance in the accession negotiations, based on the specific proposals that I conveyed to you.

Thus, my dear friend, dear Minister, I had the opportunity to once again reiterate Greece’s commitment to the Thessaloniki Agenda and our firm support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans – always based on the well-known conditionality, of course.

However,  as I told you, the European Union must send a clear message in this direction, and I will stress this at the next meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, at which we will discuss the issue of Western Balkans.

During our luncheon, we will discuss the refugee/migration challenge that the whole of Europe is facing. We will also talk about the efforts Montenegro is making, something I would like to thank you for.

Furthermore, ahead of Greece’s Chairmanship of the SEECP, we also talked about the initiatives and mechanisms for regional cooperation.

We will also have the opportunity to review my recent visits to Ankara, Cairo and Riyadh, and the five-sided talks starting on Tuesday, in Geneva, on the Cyprus problem.

In this context, I would also like to say publicly that Greece does not see the statements coming from Turkey, regarding a two-state or confederation solution, as helping towards the achievement of a good result in the talks that will start on Tuesday, in Geneva, in the context of the five-sided conference.

Minister, I would like to thank you once again for being here. Greece considers the Western Balkans to be a region of immediate interest, a region where there are many friendly countries.

We are always concerned when we see other countries with different, non-European agendas or agendas that are not friendly to the region trying to force their presence on these friendly countries in an attempt to revive past imperial glory. We do not think this is the way to take our region into the future. What will take the Western Balkans, the Balkans, all of us into the 21st century is the European perspective, European values, understanding and good neighbourliness.

Again, thank you very much for being here in Athens today.

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