Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias concludes visit to Prague

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Czech counterpart Lubomír Zaorálek expressed their mutual volition to further enhance the Greek and Czech relations not only at bilateral cooperation level but also towards the establishment of a better future in Europe in their joint statements after their meeting in Prague on Tuesday.

Kotzias, who is paying an official visit to Prague, said that the future of the European Union is a matter that concerns us both very much. We must contribute to a substantial discussion among the partners, the societies and the institutions on the future of Europe, he noted.

“The future of the European Union is something that concerns us very much because we are countries that have approximately the same population,” said Zaorálek.

“We must agree on our vision, principles and values that will be supported in order to promote a social Europe and render it, again, attractive to its citizens and to the new generation. “We must prevent Europe’s fragmentation,” said Kotzias.

“We are facing two huge and difficult geostrategic and geo-economical problems. The Brexit and the stabilisation of our relations with Turkey,” he added. Regarding the second one, he underlined that “the Turkish must decide if they want to work and promote the necessary reforms in order to be included
in the European Union.”

On the western Balkans, both ministers agreed that their course to the European Union and the EuroAtlantic structures should be further supported but to also contribute to the development of the political culture of consensus and compromise.

At a press question on the condition of the Greek economy, Kotzias said: “We have many difficulties but we have a plan on how we will face the crisis and return to high growth rates. All indications show that this year will be a record year in the foreign trade between Greece and the Czech Republic. Last year we had a reduction in the tourist flow but this year it will be over 400,000 arrivals to half a million. The development of our relations with the Czech Republic is another fact that contributes to the stabilisation and growth of our economy,” said the Greek minister.

According to diplomatic sources, the two ministers all refered to the policy of the Visegrad countries while during the working lunch the two delegations agreed that the two Foreign Ministers will meet once a year and hold political deliberations between the two ministries on several issues as the migration, the future of Europe and the condition in the western Balkans.

On the condition in the Middle East, they emphasised on Syria where the Czech Republic is the only European country that continues to have an embassy. The two countries agreed to closely cooperate on the issue provided that Greece will send, in the near future, a special delegate in Beirut who will monitor Syria’s issues. They also discussed the relations with Turkey, the stance of both countries in Egypt and the migration issue.

Zaorálek invited Greece to participate in the European Conference on Security which will be held in Prague on June 9 and expressed his country’s will to open an honorary consulate on Corfu.
Finally, they examined the possibilities for economic cooperation on several sectors as tourism. A special reference was made to the spa tourism and the cooperation between regions of central Greece with Czech region such as the spa town Karlovy Vary.

After his meetings in the Foreign Ministry, Kotzias met with the president of the Senate Milan Štěch. Their talks focused on the migration issue and Kotzias expressed the Greek positions and reminded that Greece had warned in advance on the outburst of migration while stressing the need for the EU-Turkey agreement to be respected by both sides.

Kotzias also referred to the Greek position on the Cyprus issue and explained the problem of Cyprus which is an issue of invasion and occupation and the clear position and there can’t be a solution if Turkey maintains its intervention rights or the fulfillment of irrational demands as the four freedoms.

On Wednesday morning, before his departure for Athens, Kotzias met with Prime Minister Buhoslav Sobotka who expressed his pleasure over the success of Kotzias’ visit in Prague. The two top officials discussed the course of the Greek economy and the strengthening of the Greek-Czech relations as well as the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on the refugees, the EU-Turkey relations and the future of Europe and its institutional function. Both expressed their skepticism on ideas and proposals expressed for a two-speed Europe and also expressed their pleasure over the new chapter of a closer bilateral cooperation between the two countries that opened with Kotzias’ visit to Prague.