Intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Gerapetritis at the 27th Annual Economist Roundtable (24.10.2023)

Thank you very much for the special honor of being invited to the Economist Conference today.

It is a unique forum to have a high-level exchange of views so that we can highlight the common problems that plague us and see the solutions and solutions that are necessary in our lives for the well-being of today, but also the well-being of the future. next generations.

Many thanks to Nektaria Passarivaki and Daniel Franklin and all the Economist staff. It is also a great pleasure to talk today with two friends of Greece, with two extremely distinguished personalities, with Wess Mitchell and David Harris, who have risen through a long journey in politics and economics.

Today, we should mainly discuss the issues related to the interaction between the global, the regional and the national and how this interaction shapes a modern world, shapes a new method of decision-making and how at the end of the day modern multi-level governance is able to respond successfully to the challenges that overwhelm us. However, under the circumstances that are taking shape, I will limit myself to a few words only on this subject of the regional and the universal and then I will focus on the most current and most important of our foreign policy and in particular, on the crisis in the Middle East, which this is currently the focus of interest.

Let me say the following. That under the circumstances, the concept of issues of national, regional and universal interest has been diluted absolutely. There is no subject that can be considered purely national or purely regional or even universal. Such is the interaction of all these levels that every crisis actually reflects on a national level, on a wider level or on a global level. I think the big challenges of today are the ones that also shape the context: It is the climate crisis, which we have all experienced in the most painful way. It’s the food crisis. It’s aggression. It’s public health, and it’s immigration. The five modern challenges, all of which have three characteristics in common. The first is that, in reality, they have no place and no time. They are hyperlocal and timeless. The reflexive consequences of these five major challenges essentially touch all of us, wherever we are, in whatever time we live.

Also, a second common characteristic is the demolition of the certainties we had. We all experience wars in our neighborhood, which we took almost for granted but after decades of relative calm, especially in Europe, we had forgotten. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine I think it highlighted in the most powerful way that revisionism is at our door and we should not take anything as safe and certain.

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And of course, what also has a common ground is that the universal crises that do occur are not always met with universal solutions. I retain from the last General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, an aversion from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who said that compromise has become a dirty word. We have a difficulty in being able to sit down and discuss problems which are common, touch us all, touch today and tomorrow. Despite this, we find it very difficult to have a deliberative attitude towards things, so that we find solutions, which will be beneficial. We have to be deliberative, to deal with issues with care and, above all, to put the future in our thoughts, not just the present, today or yesterday.

Just look at the last few days from the point of view of Greece’s foreign relations. Yesterday, we had the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union in Luxembourg. The issues that were on the agenda were, in fact, issues that you cannot limit to the region in which they are developed. It was the war in Ukraine. It was the crisis in the Sahel region, in Africa, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The crisis in the Balkans, especially the crisis that is developing in Kosovo. The crisis we have on the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and of course the Middle East. Judgments which all have one seat, but have a huge reflection.

The Middle East. The Middle East is a great test, a great test for all of us. And it is a great test for all of us, because it is an issue that is at the forefront of the foreign policy of all the countries of the West and the Arab world.

Greece, from the first moment, took a position of authority on this issue, when the issue arose after the terrorist attack by Hamas on the State of Israel. Greece took a clear position.

We said, first of all, that we condemn, and the whole civilized world must condemn, every form of terrorism, violence and inhumane treatment. We said that it is not possible to have any kind of hostage, so essentially there is a discrediting of the human personality, to the extent that the person is used as a means of extortion between states.

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We said that it is not possible to target civilians. We have said that it is only possible to ensure humanitarian passages and humanitarian aid to all the vulnerable.

And we said, finally, that this issue should be resolved in an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations and with the participation of all the powerful players and interested parties. This attitude of ours led us to gain power, to be honest in our attitude and to acquire an important diplomatic capital. Greece, with its strong stance, today can boast that it talks to the Arab world, talks to Israel and we are reliable in what we say.

Yes, we will always be with the peaceful resolution of disputes. Today, on the anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Organization that speaks precisely about the peaceful resolution of disputes for the rule of law, for the guarantee of human rights. And yes, we should ensure the right of states to defend themselves against attack within the limits established by international law.

For us, the Middle East issue should be on the agenda and in the international spotlight. We should work on the solution, which has already been promoted by decisions, resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization for the two states, for the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. And yes, it should be ensured that every state has the right to enjoy tranquility, peace and integrity on its territory. Terrorism in any form cannot be tolerated by anyone.

In this context, I would like to point out that Greek foreign policy will remain a foreign policy of principles. It is not going to become either opportunistic or transactional. Because for us diplomacy and foreign policy is primarily an issue that concerns the interests of our country. But it is also a moral claim to support law, democracy, dialogue and prosperity.

Thank you very much.

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