FM Kotzias: ‘We want to make Greece an energy center’

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, in an interview with Avgi on Sunday, inter alia stressed:

“Greece knows the Middle East well. It is a country that “senses” oncoming developments in a timely manner and discerns the prospects in the region. It has good relations with all the countries in the region. These countries accept our role as a country that mediates and promotes – far from the lights of publicity – negotiations between sides with disagreements. For example, we can collaborate with Israel, explaining at the same time that we support the rights of the Palestinians, as I did recently in Parliament.

We can develop relations with Iran, saying, in Tehran, that we have good relations with countries that Iran sees as enemies.”

“There are strong, good political relations with Palestine. There is trilateral cooperation with Cyprus and Israel as well as with Cyprus and Egypt. Now trilateral cooperation with Jordan and Cyprus will be added. Egypt has accepted that there be quadrilateral cooperation on security and stability issues in the region, with the participation of Egypt itself, Jordan, Cyprus and Greece.

We are stepping up our meetings, along with our assistance. Recently, in addition to me, high-level diplomats from the ministry visited Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Israel for talks. I remind you of the International Conference on the protection of religious and cultural communities in the Middle East, which we held two months ago, in Athens, with high-level participation of important church, academic and political figures from all over the region. We are now creating an international observatory on the issue.”

“We want to make Greece an energy center. This will upgrade our geopolitical and geo-economic capabilities. It will enable us to have energy at a competitive a cost and at competitive prices. It will contribute to stability in the region. We look forward to supplying terminals and pipelines with energy from Iran, Azerbaijan, the Eastern Mediterranean, Iraq and the Kurdish regions, Russia and the U.S. And that’s not all. Our proactive, multidimensional foreign policy is expressed in the field of energy diplomacy.”

“The settlement of the Cyprus issue requires a positive outcome in the negotiations being carried out under the auspices of the UN. For these negotiations to be successful, adequate rights and security need to be ensured for all sides. The continuity of the Republic of Cyprus needs to be ensured, along with the rational solution of the problems associated with the institutional system being formulated, citizenship, territory, property. Matters on which the Republic of Cyprus itself has the say. The choices, decisions and agreements the Republic of Cyprus makes are supported by us unconditionally. The Republic of Cyprus and the legitimate populations that live in the Republic of Cyprus are and must be the masters of the treaties and agreements. Any other conduct would be outside intervention, as is the case on the other side.”

“We have red lines. Not to block a solution, but so that the solution to the Cyprus issue is just and proper. We certainly will not allow any effort towards imposition of timelines or bad solutions from the outside; timelines or solutions that will culminate in a negative result.”

“The need for the Cyprus solution to be compatible with the Community acquis, European law. As an EU member state with special historical ties with Cyprus, we have the right to say, in a voice that is heard, that in Cyprus there cannot be permanent divergence from the four fundamental principles of the existence of the EU itself. Cyprus is a member of the EU and must capitalize on this capacity to the benefit of everyone.”

As regards guarantees and the occupation of northern Cyprus, “it is an issue that we raised with great clarity and firmness. We didn’t raise it as a formality. We didn’t just say that we don’t like this status. We said, from the outset, that, whatever happens, we will not remain a guarantor power, and, by extension, no one else can remain a guarantor power. The current system of guarantees is anachronistic, outside the UN resolutions of the past 50 years. It violates international law and has been undermined repeatedly in the past.

The negotiation of the guarantees system cannot concern any amendment or adaptation of the system, but only its elimination and the shaping of an agreement on the security and independence of Cyprus itself. We cannot talk about a solution without the elimination of the system of guarantees. Otherwise, what kind of solution will it be? We are similarly categorical on the need for the withdrawal of occupation forces. Their continued presence would be proof of non-solution and not of a solution.”

Refugee crisis: “Greece is paying for the choices of third parties; that is, the choices of those who decided to go to war in Lebanon and Syria. The refugee issue added an additional problem in the midst of the crisis. A problem not just economic, but profoundly humanitarian, social, as well. It is a problem that is certainly linked to our own historical-cultural identity.

With regard to the refugee influxes, we are an international player of central importance. But there are those who want to blame us for all of the repercussions of their incapacities and choices. You see, even the most organized capitalist country in the world, the U.S., cannot stop tens of millions of migrants from Latin America from entering its territory.

Of course, life has more imagination that we do. It generates conflicts and contradictions. The refugee issue added problems for us, but at the same time it strengthened our importance. To stress the latter, we need to keep third parties from “negotiating” for us, even to our detriment. What we need to do, and what we are doing, is talking to everyone directly. Unfortunately, this wasn’t done in previous years.”