Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statement following his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Rwanda, Vincent Biruta (20.05.2022)


Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statement following his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Rwanda, Vincent Biruta (20.05.2022)Your Excellency,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you today to Athens on a historic visit.

This is the first visit of a Rwandan Foreign Minister to Greece and follows my visit to Kigali last November.

Your visit is practical proof of the intensification of the EU’s and Greece’s engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa.

As you know, in the recent period, I have travelled to six other African countries following Rwanda, and that is because Africa is growing rapidly.

It is growing rapidly both economically and in terms of population. There are significant economies and an extremely talented and young workforce.

It is a part of the world that is full of dynamism, but also faces many problems; a part of the world with which Greece and the European Union seek to forge very strong ties.

As I said, my dear Vincent, Rwanda was the first country I visited because it is a typical example of success. To this example, the Greek government, the Mitsotakis government, attaches great importance. You have become a pillar of stability and a pillar of security in your wider region, and you contribute to problem solving and regional economic integration. You, Rwanda, also play an important role within international organizations.

We discussed and will continue during the working lunch, to discuss the prospects for the development of our bilateral relations, which are gaining additional momentum following the two Memoranda we signed in Kigali and the two important Memoranda of cooperation in the fields of sports and culture which were signed a short while ago. I would also like to warmly thank the Minister of Culture, Ms. Lina Mendoni, who is with us today and who signed these Memoranda.

These Memoranda are not detached from the broader promotion initiatives we have undertaken within the United Nations: the promotion of human rights, the promotion of sport, and the promotion of the Olympic ideal. It is something that the Greek Ministry of Culture and Ms. Mendoni have placed very high on their priorities.

We are also working to sign additional agreements in other areas, such as tourism, which I think will be something we will be able to sign at our next meeting, as well as the “Memorandum on the Avoidance of Double Taxation” which constitutes an essential background element for our mutual investments.

Our talks covered and will continue to cover, during the working lunch, various international and regional issues. We discussed EU-Africa relations, the great security and stability challenges Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel region face and I expressed my appreciation for Rwanda’s constructive role in the efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Sub-Saharan Africa.

At this point, I have to highlight the fact that Rwanda ranks fourth in the UN’s list of countries with the higher contribution to peacekeeping forces, the fourth country in the world.

The two countries, our two Republics, share the same commitment to the principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of International Law. We both reject the threat of use of force or the use of force and believe that the Treaties must be respected and that revisionism can have no place in the 21st century.

And I have to mention at this point the fact that Rwanda has become a global model of national reconciliation.

The Kigali Genocide Memorial, which I had the honour of visiting in November when I visited the country, is a monument of global significance, a memorial to the thousands of victims of the genocide that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 men, women, and children.

Rwanda, however, has managed to set an example in tackling genocide crimes through a process of justice and reconciliation, and especially through the recognition of the atrocities committed.

During one generation, that is within a very short period of time, President Kagame managed to unite the country following such an extremely traumatic experience, while keeping the memory alive, so that such horrors will never be repeated in the future.

My dear Vincent, your visit today takes place just one day following the Greek Pontian Genocide Remembrance Day. On this day we honour the memory of over 350,000 Greeks of Pontus, who 103 years ago were slaughtered or displaced by the Ottoman authorities.

And we would like other countries in our wider region to follow your shining example, the example of Rwanda that is to recognize the black pages of history, reconcile with the past, and apologize to the families of the victims of these atrocities.

My dear Vincent, I would like to welcome you again on your first, but I am sure not your last visit to Athens. Thank you for that. Let me tell you that, on behalf of the President of the Hellenic Republic, it would be my great pleasure if you conveyed an invitation to President Kagame to visit Athens and Greece.

Let me tell you that I look forward to our cooperation, not only at the bilateral level but also at the level of the Council of the European Union, where it would be very interesting if you, personally -and not me on behalf of you- explained the security problems the wider region of Central and Sub-Saharan Africa faces.

Thank you very much again for your presence here today.