My dear Faisal,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you again in Athens today. This is the first official visit taking place in 2022 and we consider the visit of a friend to be a particularly important omen heralding a good year.
Surely, this is not your first time in Athens, since you came here last year as well. You also participated in the Philia Forum. And of course your visit follows Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in October, an extremely successful visit.
You already had the kindness to announce to me that the Crown Prince will visit us in 2022, as soon as the pandemic allows.
These very frequent contacts are an indication of the particularly close ties that have developed between our two countries. Ties covering many areas, such as defence, trade, investments, energy, culture.
During our long discussion we examined specific initiatives, which we hope will lead to tangible results in the near future.
And, of course, these results will follow on the heels of what we have achieved during the last two years, beginning with the defence Agreement in the framework of which a battery of Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems has been deployed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Greece thus feels that it contributes to the security, not only of Saudi Arabia, but also to the security of the wider region and of Europe.
Also, we are at an advanced stage regarding the conclusion of additional bilateral Agreements of strategic and economic interest.
At this point I would like to thank you for the fact that you undertook to send a Saudi delegation to Alexandroupolis in the immediate future, in order to explore investment opportunities in the developing region of Thrace.
I would also like to express our satisfaction with Saudi Arabia’s intention to establish an Economic Affairs Office in Athens. This is yet another testament to the deepening of our relations and another example of the intention of Saudi Arabia to support Saudi investments in Greece.
We are also closely following the “Vision 2030” initiative, which is at the heart of the efforts of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. That is, a vision for the radical reform of the Kingdom with the ultimate goal of a prosperous society, a vibrant economy and an ambitious nation.
And we fully support, dear Faisal, this initiative. And we would like to take an active part in your effort; because Greece is and will remain committed to strengthening its strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We also discussed at length our cooperation in the framework of international organizations; first of all, in the United Nations, where we look forward to the support of the Arab countries for our candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council.
We also expressed our full support for the deepening of relations between Saudi Arabia and the European Union and our satisfaction about the conduct of the first EU-Saudi Arabia dialogue on human rights, which took place in September 2021. We are clearly in favour of further deepening European Union’s relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council and we look forward to the conclusion of negotiations on the establishment of a Free Trade Area as soon as possible.
This deepening of relations is of great importance to us and it takes on an even broader dimension, if we consider the fact that the Arabian Peninsula constitutes a bridge between the Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific region.
At the same time, I had the opportunity to underscore the close cooperation that Greece has developed with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is headquartered in Riyadh, as is well-known.
I also expressed Greece’s appreciation for the support provided by Saudi Arabia to Greece within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with regard to the unacceptable and unfounded attempts of the Turkish Government to distort the truth about the Muslim minority of Thrace and the Cyprus issue.
We also discussed various regional challenges. Both Greece and Saudi Arabia are committed to upholding the International Law of the Sea and freedom of navigation.
At the same time, both countries are in favour of promoting peace and stability in countries in the region, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. And of course, we support the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of third countries.
I also had the opportunity to provide detailed information on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. I pointed out the increasing aggressiveness of Turkish rhetoric against our country, which has reached a level we have not seen for years.
I stressed that the Turkish government has embarked upon a persistent distortion of the truth and of any notion of International Law, including the Law of the Sea. This position is the epitome of irrationality; Greece is threatened with war in case it exercises its inalienable right to extend its territorial waters, as it is explicitly stipulated by International Law.
Turkey has lined up the largest landing force and the largest landing fleet in the Mediterranean facing our islands, while demanding that we demilitarize them, meaning that we relinquish our recognized right to self-defence, as provided for in the United Nations Charter.
The Turkish government does all this while employing a rhetoric supposedly in favour of International Law. I have a very simple proposal to make to the Turkish Government: it should prove its commitment to International Law in practice, meaning to start implementing it. And a simple and swift implementation would be the immediate withdrawal of the casus belli and the direct admission that the Turkish-Libyan “memorandum” is non-existent.
During our meeting today, we also examined security issues in the wider Gulf region. In this context, I had the opportunity to reiterate that Greece condemns the attacks against Saudi Arabia, attacks that target civilians.
I also had the opportunity to express Greece’s full support to the efforts undertaken by the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Mr. Grundberg. Of course, we firmly support the initiative Saudi Arabia took last March, which aimed at creating a climate for resuming discussions between parties. We are ready to contribute all we can within our power to achieve peace in the region. Moreover, I had emphasized the abovementioned to the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmad Awad Bin Mubarak, whom I had met in late autumn in Bahrain.
Concluding, allow me Your Excellency, dear colleague, my dear Faisal, to thank you again for your presence today in Athens and for the opportunity given to us, the opportunity given to the Mitsotakis Government, to further strengthen Greece’s close ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Thank you so much for your presence here today and allow me to wish you a happy new year.