Statements by the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Dendia, at the end of his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Malta, E. Bartolo – September 7, 2020 I am pleased to welcome today in Athens my dear colleague, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Malta, Mr. Evarist Bartolo. This is his first visit to Athens, after taking office.
First, we looked at the level of our bilateral relations. And we agreed on the need for coordination in order to deepen our relationship even more. In fact, I had the pleasure to point out to my interlocutor that the Greek-owned fleet includes about 700 ships, ie about 1/5 of its capacity, with the Maltese flag. And, of course, we believe that Greek shipping will continue to be a bridge between our two countries. We also had the pleasure, a while ago, to sign a memorandum of understanding for our cooperation in the field of diploma education. But as you can see, and naturally, we have discussed, and will continue to discuss, during the lunch what is happening in the Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, in view of the crucial decisions that will be taken within the European Union. We talked about the situation that is developing due to the provocative and illegal actions of Turkey in the region. From Libya, Cyprus, Iraq, Syria, Turkey is the only country that opens war fronts everywhere. It is the only country that threatens its neighbours with war if they choose to exercise their legal rights. Something that, as you know, blatantly violates the United Nations Charter. At the same time, Turkey is engaging in illegal and provocative actions, such as the issuance and renewal of NAVTEX for research activities on the Greek continental shelf. He makes inflammatory statements, unprecedented direct threats. Performs exercises with real fire. It violates Greek airspace. It distorts religious monuments of world cultural heritage. It utilizes human pain in immigration. These actions are not directed against a single Member State of the European Union. They are directed against the Union itself, as seen in February in Evros, as seen in the Aegean, as seen in the Eastern Mediterranean. They violate the essence of the principles of the Union. The essence of the European common acquis. That is why these challenges, which are common, require answers that are common. The European Union is not a coalition of states. It is a family based on common values, with solidarity and the rule of law prevailing. We fully understand that many family members often have different concerns. We fully understand the existential problems of many countries and especially of small countries. I myself was born on an island. I completely understand, I have lived the island anxieties and the island peculiarities. But we must not discount our values. They must not discount the foundation of the Union. These discounts cancel the European venture and send the wrong messages to third parties that tarnish these messages, the image of our Union, first in the eyes of our own public and also in the eyes of humanity. Alas if the self-evident European solidarity is weakened. And I want to say that I am sure that Malta, an island state, can only share the basic concerns and views with the other island state of our Union, Cyprus. It is therefore necessary for Europe as a whole to rise to the occasion. Europe needs to respond firmly, but without hesitation, to Turkish challenges. In matters of security, but also in immigration. Europe has the potential to do so quite effectively. The choice is simple and it is up to Turkey itself to choose: dialogue without threats or blackmail, or sanctions. Greece – we have said it many times, the Prime Minister has said it, I have said it too – is always ready for a dialogue with Turkey. But a dialogue in the framework of international law, a dialogue based on the resolution of our only real dispute with Turkey. The one and only: the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones. And of course, dialogue under the state of blackmail and threats is not meant. And of course dialogue with the presence of Turkish research and warships over the Greek continental shelf is not meant. Greece is a modern European state governed by the rule of law that respects international law. This is what he goes through. He does not threaten or blackmail, but he also does not threaten or blackmail. My colleague and I also had the opportunity to talk about the situation in Libya, where Malta has a full understanding. We had the opportunity to talk about Operation IRINI, we had the opportunity to talk about the possibility of imposing an arms embargo on Libya. We had the opportunity to talk about how we can ultimately help build a lasting peace. However, I would like to make it clear again that Greece is steadfastly seeking to play a positive role in Libya, through its participation in the Berlin Process, but also in any way that is possible. And of course, Greece fully understands that the situation in Libya is a huge issue for Malta. How the situation in Libya affects the control of migratory flows that can put Malta’s island society in an extremely difficult position. However, I emphasized to my colleague, in general, that the developments in immigration and the experience we have from its instrumentation by Turkey, require the close cooperation of our countries, in view of the processes for the revision of the common European asylum system. As well as the need for strict implementation by Turkey of the provisions of the 2016 Joint Declaration. Finally, we had the opportunity to exchange views on the MED 7 cooperation schemes – which will meet in a few days in Corsica – and the Union for the Mediterranean. Shapes, which are useful tools for the promotion of our cooperation and our common perception, so that our common sea becomes an area of peace and stability, for the benefit of our peoples. Dear Evarist, thank you very much for coming to Athens. It is our great pleasure to have you with us today. Source: Government of Greece