Meeting of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, FYROM on cross-border cooperation

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias on April 22nd participated in the Quadrilateral Meeting of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and FYROM in Thessaloniki, on cross-border cooperation. It was the first meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Interior of the four neighboring countries of Greece in Southern Balkans, in Southeastern Europe.

Following the meeting, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias stated:
” First of all, this meeting is beneficial and we all agreed to turn it into a permanent institutional mechanism of cooperation, which will convene every six months, at least, and, if necessary, on an extraordinary basis.

We also agreed that this mechanism, besides the level of Ministers, and in order to optimize collaboration at our ministerial meetings, should be held at least at the level of directors and of experts and specialists.  This was the case when we had the meeting in Athens, last week, between the Secretary Generals of the Ministers of Foreign Affair and the Police Directors of Albania, Italy and Greece.

We also agreed that this cooperation of ours aims at having common principles, based on humanitarian principles, on humanism, on appreciating the different and the other, on safeguarding the security and safety of our citizens and on the stabilization of Southeastern Europe.
We all have to develop solidarity amongst us and mutual understanding, as well. We need further communication and frequent clarifications. And we will use all potential media and means that we have for this communication. For example, video conferencing and teleconferencing, in order to promote good neighbourliness, the creation of joint centers, like the center of Tripartite Cooperation among Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.

We all agreed that we should contribute to the reform of the provisions in the Dublin Treaty. And that we should use NGOs in an organized way. Because NGOs can offer a lot, but we should make a list of these NGOs, in order to have a more coordinated evaluation of these NGOs.
We agreed that we should have special measures to support special social categories and groups. Especially unescorted children, that is children with no families, that move around our countries or children that lose their families while they are moving.

To make our work successful, we agreed that we should support common and joint policies concerning Jordan and Lebanon. We should support the development of strategies regarding these countries from the point of view of the European Union and contribute, with all of our power, to the stability of Egypt. Because its geographical position, its geographical size, the fact that it has a population of over 97 million, of whom two thirds are young people, make it a very critical player in the future of the region.

We also agreed that we need to coordinate, by all possible means, with coordination and communication, our control and our common action on the borders towards the return and relocation of the people moving in this region.
We also highlighted the need to distinguish, institutionally, between refugees and economic migrants, whose rights – and the manner in which they are dealt with – are not always the same.

In the meeting we had today, in the Interior Ministers meeting we underlined the need for further cooperation among the intelligence services of the four countries that participated in the meeting. We need to exchange information that has to do with the fight against organized crime and human trafficking.
We also looked into the agreement between the EU and Turkey from a particular point of view. We have found that at this time Turkey has been implementing this agreement successfully, I would say. The people moving from Turkey to the Greek islands have fallen in numbers. Yet, bearing in mind that there might be some gaps in the implementation of this decision, a plan B is needed for emergency situations that might arise.

Finally, in our meeting we also talked about security and safety issues which might be the issue for our next meeting. We also talked about terrorism underscoring that the refugee issue is not related with terrorism. Terrorism has to do with illegal networks and other factors that generate it and reproduce it.”

SOURCE: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Greece
PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Greece flickr