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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address at the second meeting of the B’nai B’rith World Center’s “Israeli-Hellenic Forum” organised in cooperation with the Institute of International Relations (IDIS) of Panteion University (Athens, 27.06.2022)

Excellencies,

Professors,

Dear colleague,

Dear friend Nikos,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am so glad to participate at the second meeting of this Forum, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And, I have to say, I am humbled by doing so in front of the Parthenon, this eternal monument of human wisdom and ingenuity.

I have to say that since the first forum the pandemic has prevented us from meeting again, until, of course, today.

But this has not prevented the pace of Greek-Israeli relations to progress, if I may say so, significantly. The trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has continued flourishing in various fields.

The same applies to schemes of cooperation with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Gulf countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but also with Bahrain and with Kuwait.

In this complex geopolitical environment, it was our strategic choice to deepen and to expand these schemes of cooperation.

In this complex landscape, the Abraham Accords, created in 2020, confirmed the necessity of working closer for enhancing synergies. They opened up an additional opportunity for the enhancement of our schemes. The recently conducted Negev Summit has been a very bright spot, an example of regional cooperation in these troubled times. We would be more than happy to see this new Forum expand to include other regional players, Greece among them, if I may say so.

These positive developments are a testament to our willingness to enhance our relations with important partners in the region to work towards safeguarding security.

However, we cannot but refer to today’s complicated environment, totally unstable environment.

The ongoing war in Ukraine is a stark reminder that Europe is not a war-free zone, as we hoped it was.

Our own neighborhood, the Eastern Mediterranean, is continuously facing challenge upon challenge, the crises in Syria, Libya, the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s provocative behaviour in the Aegean, in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Escalation of tensions is to the detriment of stability, that is exactly what is happening. We should spare no effort to move in the opposite direction. To cooperate constructively, to promote prosperity and stability.

In this regard, willingness from all sides is of utmost importance

• to respect international law, including the International Law of the Sea,

• to good neighbourly relations and

• to a rules-based cooperation

These are all prerequisites for a peaceful coexistence.

Revisionist narratives can only arouse extremism, they can provoke tensions. The same applies to illegal agreements, maps drafted in contravention of international law, if I may also say, agreements and maps in contravention of common sense. Turkey together with the Sarraj Administration in Libya agreed on Exclusive Economic Zones bypassing Crete. As if Greece and Spain tomorrow were to decide to draft an EEZ map pretending that Italy in the middle does not exist, and pretend that this is common sense.

But also, the Cyprus Question, an international issue of illegal invasion and illegal occupation. Attempts to impose new faits-accomplis in Varosha are totally unacceptable for us.

Broadening our scope and moving on to the Middle East, we are faced with persistent instability in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. These are all potential hotbeds of Islamic extremism and terrorism.

In Libya, the overall political landscape continues to be totally fragile and unstable.

Added to these, is of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is a tragedy of our times, something that we thought we would never experience again in our continent: war.

The negative side effects will become more acute in the months to come. Disruptions of supply chains and trade flows are putting huge pressure on markets, producers, consumers, societies.

Fundamental principles of international law are being eroded. We cannot be tolerant to attempts of revisionism in the 21st century.

At the same time, Russia intends to use energy as a weapon, directly threatening Europe’s energy security.

So, the importance of the Eastern Mediterranean becomes even more relevant in this context.

In these troubled times, the cooperation of like-minded countries is the only bright example we can offer.

Greece firmly believes in cooperation among all countries in the region, but of course on a certain basis: good neighbourly relations, respect for International law, including the International Law of the Sea.

Guided by these principles, we have shown ourselves to be a trustworthy and reliable partner in the region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am sorry to say that the road ahead is very long and is full of obstacles.

In this frightening environment, Greece’s position can only be always the same: a rules-based cooperation with our neighbours, openness, trust, commitment to safeguarding peace, commitment to safeguarding stability, respect for International law, respect for international Law of the Sea, respect for our fellow human beings in our region and beyond.

Greece’s foreign policy believes that this is the only ticket to a better society, to a better world.

Thank you so much.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic