In his speech at the handover ceremony at the foreign ministry on Saturday, outgoing minister Nikos Kotzias welcomed the vote held in neighbouring FYROM to press ahead with the constitutional changes outlined in the Prespes Agreement and said he was experiencing the paradox of having resigned and yet feeling happy.
“I am happy that we have made a hopeful step for the Prespes Agreement,” Kotzias said. “I thank the prime minister for the honour and the opportunity that he gave me to contend with the issues of foreign policy. We have made a step forward in the FYROM issue. I want to thank Zoran Zaev and the 80 MPs.”
He also revealed that Greece was poised to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles, through two presidential decrees that were in the final stages of preparation at the foreign ministry.
“I a very proud that with your guidance, Mr. Prime Minister, we sent 93 corruption cases to the public prosecutor,” Kotzias added and strongly criticised the furore concerning the ministry’s secret accounts.
“Democracy cannot work without seriousness and responsibility,” he added, noting that if the claims made were true, it was as if third countries were being warned not to cooperate with Greeks because they might embarrass them.
Summarising his nearly four-year term at the head of the ministry, Kotzias said that Greece was now a country that was heard and taken into account, based on its active and multidimensional foreign policy.
Among them he listed the progress made with Albania, including the agreement to ensure a proper burial of Greece’s WWII fallen in that country, the FYROM issue and the change in the agenda of the Cyprus issue.
“I leave having completed the great step of the ‘FYROM issue’ with your support, prime minister. I leave happy,” Kotzias said.
Kotzias submitted his resignation to the prime minister on Wednesday, following a clash with Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, the head of the junior party in the coalition government.