Ι am so happy and glad to be in Valletta today. It’s my second visit as Foreign Minister in Malta. It is my fourth visit as a Minister. I have to say, I am so happy to be in a country which is close to us. We share a common maritime tradition, a common home – the Mediterranean Sea.
Our countries share the same strong commitment to peace and stability based on International Law, including the International Law of the Sea, and of course, as you mentioned, the UN Charter principles. Principles that refer to respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries, and the prohibition of force, of use of force and of threat of use of force.
Unfortunately, these principles are under attack in our world. We discussed what is happening in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Both our countries firmly condemned the Russian aggression.
I had the opportunity to brief you on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the above-mentioned principles are also under threat, in our neighbourhood, as my country faces an unprecedented hostile rhetoric by Turkey almost on a daily basis. A purely unacceptable rhetoric.
Well, let me say that we believe that revisionism has no place in the 21st century.
We had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Libya. We are content to see that the European Union, Cyprus, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Egypt, and numerous other countries, have come out publicly and denounced the recent signing of the “memorandum” between the Tripoli government and Turkey. And thank you for referring to the conclusions of the EU Council, our Council.
I also have to say that for Greece, and for Malta, it is a common goal to promote stability in Libya. And we should work in this direction in the EU and other international frameworks.
Allow me to quote Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, in his recent speech at the UN General Assembly. He said, I quote: “Libya should transition to more peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous times”. I think this is a statement that says it all. And he continues: “Without interference from foreign actors”.
We discussed ways to strengthen our bilateral cooperation and thank you for referring to these. Economy, tourism, renewable energy resources, and logistics are areas where we can cooperate more closely. We addressed cooperation in the EU and in the IMO, where our interests converge.
We discussed a common challenge we are facing, irregular migration, and how we can deal with it. We reiterated the great importance both our countries attach to UNCLOS.
I had the opportunity to congratulate you on Malta’s election to the UN Security Council for the period 2023-2024. Good luck. This is a highly demanding job.
Greece looks forward to building on the work that you will do, hopefully as a UNSC member in 2025-26. We are about to be elected, the election is in 2024.
I am also particularly happy that we agreed today to expand our cooperation, with concrete steps, in the UN and other international organisations, as well as trade, investments, and I am looking forward to meeting the Speaker of the Parliament and enhancing parliamentary relations between our two countries. Arrange visits. I have the instruction to convey an invitation to the Speaker of the Parliament to visit Athens by the President of the Greek Parliament.
Also there are so many fora we could work together, allow me to include the MED9 into these. I have to say that I see our national interests converging, our principles being exactly the same.
So, I am so happy to be here in Malta today. Thank you also for flying overnight to receive me. This is greatly appreciated. I hope you will be able to reciprocate with a future visit to Athens within 2022.
Thank you so much.