Peter, good afternoon and welcome to Athens.
I am glad to welcome you again to Athens. It is my great pleasure. One year has passed since your last visit and tomorrow marks one year since my visit to you, in Budapest, and of course, we have met several times in various multilateral contexts, in the European Union, in NATO, in New York.
Today, however, we had the opportunity to discuss relations between our two countries. First of all, on behalf of the Mitsotakis government, I would like to thank Hungary for your prompt response to our request for assistance in dealing with the large forest fires of last summer.
Thank you very much.
I would also like to thank you for your decision to support our candidacy for a seat in the UN Security Council for the 2025-26 term. This is something extremely important for Greece.
And I would also like to tell you publicly that Greece will support Mr Korosi’s candidacy for the Presidency of the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations next year.
It is also my great pleasure that today we signed the Memorandum of Understanding, common understanding, in the field of Diplomatic Training, and for the fact that we concluded it very quickly, just four months after we started the discussions.
This indicates the level of our relations.
Starting with cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment that we discussed before, there is an upward trend in our bilateral trade, a significant upward trend despite the pandemic and this is something extremely encouraging. And there are great prospects for investment.
That is why we welcome the organization of the Greek-Hungarian Business Forum and the intention to open an office of the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency in Greece in the near future.
I am very pleased that you brought Hungarian businessmen with you. I think this is something very important. We need to link our foreign policy with the strengthening of our economic relations.
And of course I would like to thank you, we are very happy that our country is one of the most popular destinations for Hungarian tourists.
At the bilateral level, allow me to make a reference to the Greek community, which is represented in the Hungarian Parliament. For us this is also something that connects the two countries.
We also examined two issues that trouble the European Union. First, the refugee/migration issue, especially under the pressure of very worrying developments in Afghanistan. I explained to my colleague that Greece will not accept any attempt to instrumentalize migration.
And I also take the opportunity, here, to once again call on Turkey to respect the obligations deriving from the EU-Turkey Joint Statement concerning the migration issue.
Moreover, we have agreed that the European Union should intensify its efforts to protect the Union’s external borders.
It is also my pleasure to thank Hungary again for its participation in the Frontex force deployed at the Greek borders. Greek borders are European borders. Thank you so much for acknowledging it.
We also talked about the EU accession perspective of the Western Balkans. I had the opportunity to say to Peter something I believe he also agrees upon, that the European perspective of the Western Balkans is a top priority for Greek diplomacy, because we believe that this is the way to consolidate stability and security in the region.
And also, in this way, destabilizing elements or extremist ideologies promoted by third countries with other, non-European, intentions will not be allowed to interfere.
We discussed extensively on the protection of Christian populations and Christian monuments in areas of the wider Middle East, which are under constant threat.
I told Peter about our support to the Eastern Patriarchates of the original Pentarchy and the Christian Orthodox populations in the Middle East, but also in Africa, and about the need to protect the monuments in the region. In fact, we discussed and I believe we will very easily agree with Hellenic AID upon a joint effort to restore a church.
I also raised issues regarding the protection of monuments such as Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Chora that are endangered by unilateral actions that in this case are in breach of Turkey’s fundamental commitments to UNESCO, but not only to UNESCO.
I would like to say that we will continue the discussion with my Hungarian colleague and I will inform him in more detail about our relations with Turkey. I will brief him on the next round of exploratory talks.
As already announced, they will take place in Ankara next week. I clearly state that despite Turkish provocations Greece will come to the talks in a constructive spirit, as always.
At these informal contacts the issue of the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean will be examined, always on the basis of international law and the international law of the sea.
Of course I would like to be frank with you; our country harbors no great hopes. But who knows, reality may prove us wrong in a pleasant way.
I also briefed Peter in detail on our recent agreement with France, an agreement that advances European defence and is compatible with our commitments to NATO, a fact the American side has acknowledged.
Greece is always operating on the basis of its contractual obligations as opposed to some other allies which undermine NATO cohesion.
I did not fail to explain to my colleague that our agreement with France is a purely defensive agreement. It is not directed against anyone.
Besides, I had signed a similar agreement with the United Arab Emirates, about a year ago. Given the defense priorities of these agreements, I would like to say that Turkish allegations are entirely unacceptable.
If Turkey is frustrated by these agreements, this can only mean that it perceives itself as a potential aggressor.
Again, it is a great pleasure for me to receive Peter in Athens.
I welcome him and wish him a pleasant stay.
Thank you so much.