Thank you so much, dear Minister,
My visit is the first visit of a Greek Foreign Minister in Nigeria, but we can cover the lost ground. I can come more often and I am expecting your visit to Athens the soonest.
The bridges are here already, as you were very kind enough and generous to mention. Α vibrant Greek business community which has been here for more than a century with household names. Which means that our business community goes to countries to stay, to invest, to employ. Not to get a quick profit and return home.
And also, there is a Nigerian community in Greece with distinguished members. We are very proud of Giannis Antetokoumpo, let me be frank anout it, the best basketball player in the world nowadays, a Greek-Nigerian,a Nigerian-Greek.
But also, if you allow me to say, I am always an admirer of Nigerian sports. And I do remember the first participation of Greece and Nigeria in the football World Cup in 1994 in which you beat us 2-0. Finidi George and Daniel Amokachi the two goals at the time. And good luck in the Africa Cup. You have always been very good at football; great talents are coming from Nigeria.
My visit in Abuja today is about enhancing our bonds. The signature of the Bilateral Cooperation is a significant step, but many Agreements are in the pipeline and maybe we will be able to conclude them soon; trade, tourism, maritime transport and energy, lots to do.
The Greek Embassy in Abuja and the Nigerian Embassy in Athens have a lot of work to do, as Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa. And we, Greece, consider ourselves as an entry point to the European Union, and if you allow me to say, also to the Middle East. There is great potential on which we can build.
Just a few weeks ago, through the efforts of the Nigerian Ambassador in Athens, a business forum was organised; an Investment Forum. Such initiatives need to be encouraged. The next step I take is a Forum of Greek entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
We have been also parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for decades now. So we see eye-to-eye on this issue. And we will be happy to cooperate with Nigeria in upholding these principles internationally, especially the freedom of navigation. His Excellency was kind enough to mention the important Greek merchant fleet. This is one of the reasons that we believe that we have to be very careful on the freedom of navigation and on a rules-based society on all issues. Especially on issues regarding the sea, Greece being traditionally a maritime nation and having a substantial expertise in this field.
And also on issues of maritime security, we will be very happy to train Nigerian officers in our maritime training Centre. We believe it is one of the best in the world. But also, we invite Nigerian cadets to come and study in Greek military schools. We consider this as a contribution to issues of security in Sub-Saharan Africa, which I believe is a common challenge, not just a challenge for the countries of the region.
Another common challenge is the pandemic. Thank you, your Excellency, for so graciously accepting our donation. The instruction that I have received from my Prime Minister Mitsotakis is that we should pursue this as an obligation, not as a donation. We believe we have an obligation towards the world to contribute as much as we can to address this challenge, because we believe that unless the whole world is safe, nobody is safe.
We discussed other issues of cooperation and our common fundamental principles, such as respect for International Law, the peaceful resolution of disputes, as well as the promotion of a rules-based international order.
And I briefed my counterpart on the challenges Greece is facing in her immediate neighbourhood.
We also discussed other international challenges. Nigeria is an important international player. And I have to say, Nigeria needs our support in the Nigerian efforts to combat terrorism. Nigeria is a very important country also in this respect.
We discussed cooperation in International Organisations. I underlined the fact that we, a country with no colonial past, can be an excellent partner in enhancing relations between Nigeria and the European Union.
And also, I would like to thank you, your Excellency, for your help and for your support in our effort to be elected to the UN Security Council for the period 2025-26. I think we will be greatly contributing also to the peace and stability, not just of this region but of the whole world.
May I say that I believe today’s meeting sets the foundation for a great partnership between our countries. A partnership on which we can build.
And again, I look so much forward to welcoming you to Athens.
Thank you so much your Excellency for this great reception.
JOURNALIST: Your Excellencies, we would like some clarifications. What brand of vaccine are you donating? And, very recently we had a situation where Nigeria had to destroy several vaccines because they were expired. We want to know what expiry date is on the vaccines.
N. DENDIAS: First of all, the vaccine is Johnson & Johnson. It’s done through the COVAX mechanism so you have the ability to absorb them as you can deliver them. So it’s not an expiry date… But, also, if you’ll allow me, which is more important, what I proposed to his Excellency was that if Nigeria needs know-how on delivering the vaccines, on software of organising vaccination, we will be happy to help in that field as well. Because we understand the challenge on such a vast country, with such a big population, on keeping timetables. We understand how difficult that is. And the important thing is the endgame, the vaccination of the people, as my dear colleague said, “the jab on the arm”. Not just delivering the vaccines in Nigeria, but delivering to the persons that will be the endgame of this process. So, we will be glad to offer know-how in delivering as well.