FM Kotzias stresses Greece’s stabilising role in SE Mediterranean

Greece has assumed an important role as the country with the strongest historical and cultural ties within the surrounding region and as a beacon of security and stability, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias stressed in Athens on Monday.

Kotzias was addressing the 2nd International Conference of Athens on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” being held in Greece’s capital.

“The five tripartite initiatives of our country in the region, together with Cyprus, the ‘spirit of Rhodes’ for new security structures, the global initiative for living ancient civilisations and this initiative, as well as the cooperation of the Euromed Seven, constitute the cornerstones of our policy in the region,” he said and added: “Greece has been and is the country that has for thousands of years supported respect for that which is different, tolerance between religions and civilisations, the creative exchange of their achievements, and learning from one another.”

Criticising the large organisations operating in the region, with emphasis on the UN, which does not yet have a comprehensive plan, and the EU, which operates selectively towards states, individuals and minorities rather than the whole region, and in particular religious and cultural communities, the foreign minister made two important proposals: “To table a special resolution in 2018 in the UN and the Human Rights Committee and to include in EU documents the issues that we will be dealing with tomorrow.”

At the same time, he proposed the further strengthening of the European Observatory, the center for religious pluralism in the Middle East, which was established in the framework of the First International Conference.

The foreign minister underlined that “extremists have committed crimes against people, against religious communities, against our common cultural heritage and have violated values and rights, destroyed historic memories and monuments,” adding that “in our region we must fight for respect toward what is different, especially between Jews and Muslims, Christians and Yazidi, but also between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Kurds and Arabs.”