Wednesday, August 01, 2007

FM outlines foreign policy to Greek ambassadors

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis ended a two-day seminar for Greece's ambassadors abroad on Tuesday with an in-depth analysis of Greece's foreign policy, during which she stressed the "principle of mutuality" as the basis for Greece's dealings with foreign states.

"The policy of mutuality is based on promoting the mutual interests of Greece and its international interlocutors," she said, adding that the ministry now looked beyond Greece's national role to its position in the international environment as a force with high prestige - a regional force of power and influence.

Despite its small population, Greece was a key factor for stability in its surrounding region and was treated as a serious, reliable and dynamic country - a conclusion that arose and was confirmed during contacts within the European Union, in the United Nations, in the Balkans, in the Middle East but also elsewhere, she said.

At the close of her presentation, she urged ambassadors to view their role as ?creatively as possible? and to seek areas of action and influence in individual societies, promoting not just traditional diplomacy but also economic and public diplomacy that promoted Greek positions and foreign policy to a wider audience than the diplomatic community.

?Don’t fall into the trap of seeing yourselves as simple, if senior, civil servants. Your ideas, your analysis, your opinion and your viewpoint count,? the minister stressed.

Relations between Greece and Turkey

Greece's relations with Turkey dominated her address, with Bakoyannis stressing that Greece, but also the rest of its EU partners, wanted a stable and strong Turkish government with a broad democratic legitimization that remained committed to the European idea.

She underlined that Turkey's European course remained the linchpin of Greece's overall policy for Greek-Turkish relations. The minister also pointed to Athens’ clear strategic choice in favour of a European course for the entire Balkan region, as a catalyst for peace, stability and economic prosperity.

Noting that the process of adapting to European standards was long and difficult for every country and that Turkey still had a long road ahead, Bakoyannis said that Athens and its EU partners required calmness, continuity and consistency.

?We must remain faithful to our strategic target: full adaptation will equal full accession,? she stressed.

She expressed hope that the new Turkish government would once again pick up reforms that would bring Turkey closer to Europe and made it clear that these would also have to include its democratic institutions and human rights laws.

The minister particularly stressed the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was a spiritual leader for 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world, to freely exercise its religious function.

On a purely bilateral level, Bakoyannis underlined that Greece was steadfastly oriented toward improving its relations with Turkey while fully protecting its national interests.

?Greece and Turkey are doomed to coexist and live together. The dividend of peace, stability and development that will be earned by our peoples from a full normalization of our bilateral relations is especially important. It is my deepest conviction that we have an obligation to the generations that follow to rid our countries of this burden. But this requires more than good intentions, surmised or not. It requires strong political will. It requires plain speaking and clean solutions. Our position is clear: We extend a hand of friendship. It is time for Turkey to respond,? Bakoyannis underlined.

Policy on Cyprus issue

Greece is continuing to fight for a ?just, viable and functional? solution to the Cyprus problem and its cooperation with the Cyprus government was ongoing and fully harmonious, Bakoyannis said.

?It is of course a fact that the Cyprus Republic, now also our partner in the European Union, is a sovereign country. Unfortunately, in spite of the continual and earnest efforts of President [Tassos] Papadopoulos and the Cyprus government, the agreement of July 8 has not yet yielded the expected results,? she told ambassadors.

Accusing the Turkish-Cypriot side of employing delaying tactics with encouragement from Ankara, Bakoyannis stressed that these policies led nowhere, since apart pushing a solution further away they also alienated the Talat from the Turkish Cypriot community.

Greece, as it had done before on a multilateral, European and bilateral level, will encourage and actively assist every effort by Cyprus for progress on the Cyprus issue, she added.

FYROM and ‘Macedonia’ name issue

Regarding the dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s adopted constitutional name ?Republic of Macedonia? to which Greece objects, the minister stressed that Greek foreign policy was based on defending the country’s interests, not creating impressions at home.

She said that Greece had actively proved its desire to contribute to finding a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the name to be used by FYROM and that it was now up to the neighbouring country to ?cover the corresponding distance? in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable name, given that the name FYROM was temporary.

She called on FYROM to ?abandon actions and practices of irredentist propaganda and to actively show that it is following a policy of good neighbourliness.?

Bakoyannis stressed that the provisions of the Interim Agreement had to be followed to the letter and in spirit, since this was the only way to arrive at the common goal, which was fully normalized and stronger bilateral relations, establishing regional cooperation and stability and FYROM’s unobstructed course in efforts to join the EU and NATO.

According to the minister, Greece was keeping all options open except one on this score:

?There is absolutely no chance of the neighbouring country’s accession to NATO with the so-called constitutional name ‘Republic of Macedonia’. But it must also be clear that there is also no room for a selective reading of the individual articles of the Interim Agreement,? she stressed.

Balkans and Kosovo

Regarding the EU candidacies of Croatia, FYROM and Albania, Bakoyannis said a decision was likely within 2008 and pointed out that each case was different, with Croatia currently ahead of the other two.

With respect to Kosovo, and the process currently underway to determine its future status, Bakoyannis stressed that unilateral actions would not contribute to ensuring long-term peace and stability in the region.

She described Kosovo as ?an international problem requiring an international solution? that required a decision by the UN Security Council.

Bakoyannis also expressed Athens’ disagreement with a tight deadline and said that Pristina and Belgrade should be given another chance to achieve a solution that was based on consensus as far as possible, which both sides could live with.

?Greek policy is moving steadily and actively in this direction, because we believe that such a development will be for the benefit of regional stability and security. We are fully aware that this is an exceptionally difficult task, given that Pristina and Belgrade have entirely different starting points and completely different aims. In any case, it is necessary to find a solution compatible with European principles and values and that moves in the framework of the region’s European prospects,? she said.

According to Bakoyannis, Serbia’s entry into NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme and the start of a process for stability and association between Serbia and the EU, both of which Greece had actively supported, were a factor that restored balance in an uncertain environment.

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