Greece is able to defend its national space if need be even by itself, although it shall not stand alone, Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said during a debate in Parliament on the 2020 state budget on Sunday.
“We are formulating a foreign policy that incorporates the new global reality of the 21st century,” Dendias said, adding that conditions globally and in the Mediterranean are more complicated than ever. Greek politicians, he said, are called upon to adapt before these new challenges. “To do this, they must abandon outdated stereotypes. Let us agree on the fundamentals: Inaction is not policy; hiding our heads in the sand is not patriotic. This is the time of choices, of assumption of responsibility and of political cost,” he stressed, and called on parties to exhibit “a spirit of national accord.”
Dendias said the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is striving to establish a long-standing national accord on the main tenets of Greek foreign policy that will be consistent despite changes of
Greece’s main strategic goal is to resolve the Cyprus issue, he outlined, and to condemn illegal actions by Turkey in the Cyprus EEZ. The unanimous reaction of the EU, he said, resulted in sanctions against individuals and companies involved in illegal drilling by Turkey. The EU will ban the entry of such persons in the union and freeze their assets, he said.
“Against the policy of gunboats, we will continue to put international legality up front,” he added. “Greece’s basic goal is to promote a policy based on the stable values of good neighborliness, and respect of international laws and international treaties,” he said, adding that Greece “will defend its national space, per its constitutional obligation. (…) Despite the fact we can do so on our own, we will not be on our own.”
The Foreign Minister made special mention of Greece’s relations with the Arab world, which are of interest to Greece not just for attracting investments to Greece, but also in terms of trilateral agreements that include Cyprus. “We are expanding trilateral collaborations of Greece and Cyprus with countries of the Middle East. We will collaborate very closely with countries of the region that are friendly to Greece,” he said, noting in particular the close ties fostered with Egypt “on a daily basis, bilaterally and trilaterally.”
In this framework, he revealed he was scheduled to visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia and again the United Arab Emirates, within the coming week.
“We want to intervene in what is happening in Syria and Libya. We cannot stand by and observe when there are threats to our interests and our sovereign rights,” he said, after having referred to the Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding on maritime zones which has been condemned by the EU and US and the Libyan parliament among others. “At the same time, our ties with Israel are becoming stronger on bilateral and trilateral level, especialliy in the sensitive areas of defense and energy,” he pointed out.