Foreign Minister N. Kotzias’ interview to the Athens/Macedonian News Agency, following the International Middle East Peace Conference

Minister, you participated today in this major Conference on peace in the Middle East, the effectiveness of which has been questioned. At the end of the day, what exactly do you believe regarding its usefulness?

N. KOTZIAS: Every meeting and discussion is useful. Especially regarding regions where there is a major crisis, like the Middle East. I underscored the need for us to be courageous in developing hope and trust in the region. The need for us to bear in mind the major interests of the Palestinians and the Israelis in the creation of two states in the region, where today there is a crisis in the Middle East, and I also underscored the need for broad support of stability and security in the region. I mentioned a number of initiatives the Greek government has taken, which are trilateral cooperation configurations with five countries, the Rhodes Conference, which will be repeated in a few months, and our initiative for the protection of the Christian and other religious and cultural communities in the Middle East.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that Greece’s initiatives in the Eastern Mediterranean region can contribute to this peace process?

N. KOTZIAS: I would say there is something special about our agenda, because we are setting a positive agenda. Our initiatives are aimed at promoting positive actions and goals that develop networks and, by extension, stability in the region — initiatives in all sectors, from education and research to economy and, in particular, tourism and trade.

JOURNALIST: In your speech today, you supported, among other things, the need to cultivate a culture of consensus, compromise, and not conflict.

N. KOTZIAS: Yes, and I also say this with regard to the Balkans. When one doesn’t have a culture of consensus and compromise on international issues, one doesn’t have it domestically either. We see that countries that are authoritarian cannot come to understandings with their neighbours.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that the 72 countries here in Paris today sent an indirect message to the Trump administration …

N. KOTZIAS: I don’t think that we gathered here to send a message to the governments of third countries. We came together to send a positive message regarding the peace prospects that can be developed in the Middle East.

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us — I think you took the opportunity of your visit to Paris to meet with Harlem Desir.

N. KOTZIAS: Yes, I met yesterday with the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Harlem Desir, to brief him on issues pertaining to Greek-French relations and our stance in the European Union on issues like the Brexit, and especially regarding the Cyprus issue, since I came directly from Geneva.

JOURNALIST: Do articles that came out today, mainly in “Politico,” question your positive influence regarding the results?

N. KOTZIAS: Those who speak for their master — Turkey, that is — can be expected to believe that it would be a success in Geneva if we gave into the Turks, legitimised their rights of intervention and their ability/potential to occupy a portion of Cyprus. We have a different outlook: European and international law must be implemented, sovereignty must be granted to Cyprus, the greatest possible rights must be granted to the Turkish Cypriots, and the greatest possible sense of security must be given to the Greek Cypriots.

There have been a number of distortions of the facts. For example, they are saying that, since the technical teams are starting their meetings next week, we interrupted the process. That isn’t true. The UN Secretary-General, President Anastasiades and myself proposed the day before yesterday, Friday, that the Geneva Conference continue on a political level. As it was scheduled to do. And why — and this is very important — should it have continued on a political level? To give instructions as to how the technical teams will work. Because the Turks, who left the negotiations — who got up and left early Friday morning — said they didn’t have time for political consultations and to let the technical teams meet. But the technical teams can’t meet without political instructions. We had scheduled political consultations and the continuation of the Geneva Conference on a political level for Thursday and Friday, and they cancelled it. And it is shocking that there are European, Greek and other news media taking the side of those who cancelled the agreed process in Geneva. There are some people who think they can do whatever they want and then, on top of that, shift the blame onto those who insist on what was agreed.

JOURNALIST: Did you have any other bilateral meetings here in Paris?

N. KOTZIAS: We always have bilateral meetings. We had a number of bilateral meetings and we had a discussion with the Foreign Ministers of Kuwait and Bahrain. They invited me to visit their countries and this will be added to our schedule.

JOURNALIST: And tomorrow you are going to Brussels?

N. KOTZIAS: I’m going to Brussels this evening. We have a meeting this evening — the four European member states of Southeast Europe with whom we have developed joint cooperation — and tomorrow we have the regular meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, with the main topics being, again, the Middle East, but also Syria, and there will be a briefing on the Cyprus issue, and late on Monday night I will be returning to Athens.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic