Interview of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs K. Fragogiannis in the newspaper “VIMA TIS KYRIAKIS” (06.06.2021)

The 25 projects with Turkey, which will be discussed on June 18 in Antalya, the importance of a positive agenda in the context of a cautious rapprochement with the neighbouring country, as well as immediate plans of cooperation with other countries are the focus of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis’ interview, published in the newspaper “VIMA TIS KYRIAKIS” on June 6, under the title “The man with the positive agenda”.

After a difficult year in 2020, the positive agenda with Turkey is, as the article emphasizes, the most demanding of the “special tasks” entrusted to Mr. Fragogiannis by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “The meaning of the positive agenda is particularly important,” said Mr. Fragogiannis, following Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Athens, as well as his own meeting with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal in Kavala on Saturday, May 29. “Last year we reached the point where there were no communication channels between Greece and Turkey. That was when we decided to activate the positive agenda in order to establish a positive framework”, he added.

“There were pending projects with Turkey, some of which seemed easier to take forward while some others seemed nearly impossible. But we thought that through them we might increase the chances of resolving other issues. We sent the Turkish side a list of 15 projects that we thought could go ahead, the Turks added eight more and at our last meeting in Kavala we added two more. That’s a total of 25 projects, while what was particularly substantial was the agreement on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates”, he explained.

The purpose of this undertaking, Mr. Fragogiannis said, is to introduce a coherent action plan, with sub-project plans which will be put on the table again on June 18 when he meets with his Turkish counterpart Sedat Önal, at the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum. In this context “working groups will be created on each issue separately so that by mid-July we have outlined the positive agenda,” he stressed. As announced, the areas of interest are categorized as follows: seven projects related to economic and business cooperation, seven on transport and telecommunications, two on technology, one on energy, one on tourism, three on shipping and one each on education, social security, health and the environment.

Regarding the plans concerning other countries, Mr. Fragogiannis announced that visits to Libya, Iraq, but also a Balkan tour are to follow. After his recent visit to Kosovo with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias, the Deputy Minister said that “we will visit Libya, where the Consulate General in Benghazi will reopen, but we are also keen on participating in the country’s reconstruction, as well as entering the construction and infrastructure sectors there.”

“We will be in Iraq, where there are also opportunities. Let us not forget, that our country imports almost 50% of its oil from Iraq, while this country needs new infrastructure – imagine that they are forced to import electricity from Iran while they could produce, for example, from natural gas. There is therefore a field open for Greek companies. As for the Balkans, we want to help the European orientation of these countries, because we want them to be prosperous and we do not want to have ‘black holes’ in our region”, Mr. Fragogiannis said.

Finally, the Deputy Foreign Minister stressed the importance of economic diplomacy today, noting: “Traditionally, in diplomacy, whenever there was a political rapprochement, there was also a flourishing of economic cooperation. Eventually, the opposite may happen. Diplomacy as we knew it has changed and any means you can employ to bring two sides together is useful.”

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