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Statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, following the meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy (Foreign Ministry, 12 September 2018)

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, following the meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy (Foreign Ministry, 12 September 2018)N. KOTZIAS: Good afternoon. We had another meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy. As you know, each time we meet, I want us to have a specific and in-depth discussion on a single topic. In Parliament and in the Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs, during this past year we have had detailed discussions of the issues concerning Greek-Albanian relations, the issues concerning fYROM – in the future, ‘North Macedonia’ – and Greek-Turkish relations.

You also know that the country needs more coordination and planning on crisis issues, on major national problems; that we need to prepare for alternative scenarios. In our assessment, to do this successfully we need an institution that exists in many other countries in the world. This institution is a National Security Council, headed by a National Security Advisor, which coordinates the various Ministries, the various services, and, under the proposed law we have begun preparing, will, along with the Prime Minister, consult with and brief the heads of the other parties.

The discussion flowed creatively, and I thank the representatives of all the parties for their observations, criticisms and thoughts. We have decided to work on these in collaboration with them in order to prepare a law that is as good as possible and reflects the country’s needs, and in order for there to be consensus with the opposition parties.

Unfortunately, as always, New Democracy did not share in this good climate and has decided not to discuss the issues we are called upon to resolve – such as the national security issues – and prefers to limit itself to criticism.

The invitation we sent out is being distributed to you. It is dated 16 August 2018. I’ll also give you the table of recipients, which each recipient signed on the day they received the invitation. What I want to say is, Mr. Koumoutsakos, and not some representative of his, signed for his receipt of the document on 17 August 2018. Since 17 August, he has had time to either send his thoughts or make observations on the agenda, or even propose that we change the topic of the meeting.

He did not do so, stating falsely that he received the invitation only two days ago, while his signature – which he himself dated – proves that he received it a month ago. And he did this solely to avoid taking a stance on National Security Council issues and to follow a policy that is unprecedented in Greek foreign policy and has never been seen before in the National Council on Foreign Policy, which I have had first-hand knowledge of since the day it was created, because I participated in the planning of the relevant law with Mr. Liakouras at that time.

Simply in order to criticize, to walk out and make statements, having nothing specific to propose in foreign policy. To state falsely that he did not receive the invitation in good time. He has forgotten that he signed for this invitation. This is an example of New Democracy’s serving its narrow party interests, and we continue to have this phenomenon: rather than focusing on the country’s needs, on international developments or even on domestic developments, its focus is within the party itself.

This isn't just politicking. It is politics limited to the row within New Democracy and how they can show that they can squabble without putting forward arguments and without content. This saddens me a great deal because – including from the standpoint we discussed today – Greece is about to take a bold step in institutional modernization and renewal through institutions that are vital for a country like Greece, which is located at the crossroads of many international crises and problems, in a time of great changes.

We and I personally will do our duty to the country. I will not be dragged into name-calling – as you know, I am not inclined to that. I don’t think it is worth the trouble. The country needs a government and ministers, but it also needs an opposition that helps to resolve problems rather than hindering solutions.
Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Minister, who will be on the National Security Council? Will they be ministers? Will they be from the parties?

N. KOTZIAS: First of all, we are at the initial planning stage, and what we want to create is a classical Security Council – classical in the sense of international models – that consists of Ministers as well as ministry officials whose work is related to new crisis phenomena or is related to the country’s security needs.

And we have a second level, where the Prime Minister, together with the National Security Council, will brief the heads of the political parties on the discussions, planning and alternative scenarios formulated on the first level.

This is an innovation of our legislation that doesn't exist in any other country.

JOURNALIST: Will the National Security Advisor be a Minister or a new person?

N. KOTZIAS: The National Security Advisor will not be some Minister in the form of Deputy Prime Minister; he or she will be able to coordinate the other ministries. The National Security Advisor will report to the Prime Minister of the country, but will be on the qualitative level of a Minister, in terms of scientific knowledge and duties. As in the rest of the world, because some people are acting like this is a new invention.

The National Security Advisor – who will coordinate services and ministries, and communicate with the opposition parties – will certainly be appointed by the Prime Minister. But this is the innovation of our law. First he will get the approval of Parliament, in a manner to be provided for by Parliament itself. So he will have parliamentary coverage and confirmation. Thank you.

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