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Speech By The Greek Minister Of Foreign Affairs At The “Thessaloniki Summit 2020”

Speech by the Greek minister of foreign affairs at the “Thessaloniki Summit 2020”

“The Eastern Mediterranean in crisis” – November 5, 2020 Speech by the Greek minister of foreign affairs at the “Thessaloniki Summit 2020” First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately, due to commitments, I will not be able to be with you today in a discussion that promises to be very interesting. However, I attach great importance to today’s debate and in
this context I considered it important to make this brief intervention. The Eastern Mediterranean is again, no doubt, in a state of turmoil. There are many challenges, some old, some new. All of them are seriously destabilizing the region and threatening the prosperity and stability of Europe as a whole. I will not tackle these challenges because they are well known. However, I would like to emphasize a common denominator, which is unfortunately a specific country in the region: Turkey. Greece’s relations with Turkey have gone through various phases in recent decades, some were good, many not so good. And in this circumstance, Turkey once again puts forward illegal and provocative allegations regarding the sovereignty of Greece and the Greek sovereign rights. In addition, it seeks to destabilize my country immediately. This pattern of behavior on the part of Turkey is not new, but it has three distinct elements that are new and particularly worrying. First, we note that Turkey uses a wide range of tools to achieve its goals. They range from the threat of use of force, covertly or, in many cases, overtly, to attempts to illegally search for gas reserves in areas that fall under the Greek continental shelf, as well as the instrumentalization of refugee-migrant, but also the use of fake and propaganda to tarnish the image of Greece. Second, we see a long-term pattern in Turkish behavior. This is not a crisis that lasts a few days and is followed by a rapid de-escalation. We have been observing for more than a year now, a continuous and growing effort to test the resilience of Greece. And, unfortunately, our prediction is that this situation is unlikely to change dramatically in the future. Third, Turkey is not just challenging Greece. Remaining attached to its neo-Ottoman ambitions and using 19th century tactics, it destabilizes the wider region. It is openly involved militarily in Cyprus, Libya and Syria, as well as in northern Iraq. It is present in the Caucasus and, having become a “jihadist travel agency”, poses an immediate threat to Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Our country’s response to this security challenge is to remain committed to the rules and principles that should guide international relations. And especially in good neighborly relations. We believe that countries should resolve their differences peacefully, through dialogue, and respecting the basic principles of international law, including the International Law of the Sea. In this context, Greece, instead of sticking to words, is taking action. Within a few months, we reached two monumental agreements, first with Italy and then with Egypt on the demarcation of our maritime zones. We also reached an agreement with Albania to refer the demarcation of maritime zones to The Hague. This is how peaceful nations resolve their differences, not through the diplomacy of gunners. We are working to strengthen the European perspective of our neighbors in the Western Balkans. We remain convinced that the path to stability and prosperity goes through a perspective of EU membership. Finally, we are building ties with other countries in the region, as well as with the Gulf states. We are also opening up new avenues for cooperation with emerging global powers, such as India, and strengthening our already excellent bilateral relations with the United States. Let me conclude by clarifying one point: We are not going back to 19th century politics. We do not build alliances against anyone. Instead, we are open to expanding the scope of cooperation with all our neighbors. On one condition: that they respect the principles of good neighborly relations and international law. I guess we don’t ask for much… Thank you for your attention and I hope you have an interesting and open discussion. Source: Government of Greece

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