Foreign minister Kotzias: ‘We are carrying out open, honest discussions with Turkey’
Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, in an interview with the Athens News Agency (AMNA Turk) said:
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, where do Greek-Turkish relations stand following the recent meeting you had with Mr. Cavusoglu, your Turkish counterpart, in Istanbul?
N. KOTZIAS: I think that Greek-Turkish relations are relations that have a number of problems that must be solved, and the solution will be based on international law as well as on trust between the two peoples and the corresponding competent services and, above all, between the prime ministers of Turkey and Greece, and between the Turkish foreign minister and myself. We are carrying out open, honest discussions, and I think that the state of trust is better than it was a year ago.
JOURNALIST: Ankara’s stance on the refugee problem and the consequences of that stance are well known. Can you discern any positive development?
N. KOTZIAS: I think that the most positive development would be for the war in Syria to end. It is incredible that there are some – who started and are carrying on the war in Syria – who are faulting us for not managing the results of these bombardments in the right manner. Turkey is a country being crossed by hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the international community should contribute, first, so that there is financial support for Jordan and Lebanon – so that the refugees do not move out of the camps, remaining close to their homes – and, second, to the implementation of the agreements that exist between the European Union and Turkey, as well as the international readmission agreements, for example, between Greece and Turkey, between Turkey and Pakistan.
JOURNALIST: I would say that the war in Syria has brought Russia and Turkey into conflict. How is Greece intervening to de-escalate this crisis?
N. KOTZIAS: The war in Syria has brought many, many countries into conflict. First of all, it has brought into conflict the two major currents of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites. They are expressed through their state organizations. As a result, there are conflicts beyond that between Russia and Turkey, like that between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the conflict between a number of movements in the Middle East itself. Regarding the recent Turkish-Russian incidents, you know that our country always wants to function in such a way as to calm sides down in a proper and just manner, and to see the principles of international law implemented. From this point of view we are always open to contributing to the discussion between the most disparate views in this region.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Minister, one last question. The issue of doing away with the system of guarantees in Cyprus – you tabled it first – has risen very high on the agenda of the talks on the Cyprus issue.
N. KOTZIAS: I said that the guarantees have to be done away with, but I also said that Greece has no desire to remain within – and it will leave – such a system, which is completely new. I think it is of interest, first, that the Americans are discussing it. Second, that Britain is saying that, provided the two countries (Greece and Turkey) agree, it will not pursue the status of guarantor power. China has said that the guarantees are an anachronistic system. In his speech the day before yesterday, the Russian representative to the UN – while we were talking about the Cyprus issue – said that the status of guarantees is something left over from colonialism and must be abolished. I think that an idea from Greek diplomacy, for the first time, is making headway in the best possible manner, and we are in close cooperation and communication with the Cypriot government.