Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Gerapetritis, upon his arrival at the second day of the work of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the NATO member states (Brussels, 29.11.2023)

Today concludes an extremely productive two days within the framework of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We discussed important issues and today the Council of Foreign Ministers is going to be held for the first time between NATO and Ukraine. The position of the Greek government is in favor of the approach with the Ukraine, so as to strengthen ties with the Alliance. I pointed out that I think it is extremely important that the Alliance emphasizes the South as well. What is happening today in Gaza and in the broader Middle East region, immigration, but also the events in North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa call for a special approach and emphasis on this region. It is also important for the perception that the Arab world and Africa have in relation to the Atlantic Alliance. In addition, I had the opportunity to discuss with my counterparts in bilateral meetings on critical issues, which concern bilateral relations, but also regional and international issues.

JOURNALIST: Minister, yesterday you had a meeting with David Cameron, what was the atmosphere like? Because it was a day after the diplomatic episode and also, you had a meeting with Mr. Blinken at a very critical geopolitical juncture. What was the situation? What did you discuss?

G. GERAPETRITIS: The Greek government was specifically positioned in relation to the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Sunak. What I want to point out is that the request for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is a request that arises from law, from history and from universal cultural values. Regardless, it is our belief that bilateral relations between Greece and the United Kingdom should be good and we will work with my counterpart in this direction.

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With the Minister, Mr. Blinken, we had the opportunity to confirm the excellent relations between the United States and Greece, to elaborate on the issues that are currently at the forefront of regional and international debate. To organize our next steps, which include my visit to Washington and of course to evaluate the position of Greece, the creative position of Greece in the Middle East issue, where as a reliable player Greece can perform an important mediating role.

The following is a statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs in English:

G. GERAPETRITIS: We conclude today a two-day meeting, a two-day summit of NATO. It was very constructive, very productive. Today we’re going to discuss the NATO Ukraine relationship. The Greek government is clearly in favor of this approach, and we expect our Ukrainian friends to steadily come closer to NATO. I also placed emphasis on the fact that in the opinion of the Greek government the alliance should also place emphasis on the south. Not only because there are a lot of things happening in the south, such as the irregular migration, the situation in North Africa and the Sahel region, but also because this affects the perception of the Arab world and of the African world vis-à- vis the Alliance.

I also had the opportunity to have a series of bilateral meetings with my counterparts from Europe and the United States. I had the opportunity to talk with Secretary Blinken. We had the opportunity to reiterate the excellent relationship between the United States and Greece to coordinate our next steps, which involve my visit to Washington in the near future, as well as to see ways through which Greece could be of assistance in the Middle East crisis . Greece has been a reliable player in the broader region. We talk with all interested parties, and we could be constructive interlocutors.

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As regards my meeting with Secretary Cameron, once again, I would like to say that the Greek government has made a statement concerning the cancellation of the meeting with Prime Minister Sunak. What I have to say is that the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures is a claim which is based not only on history, not only on justice, but also, it’s a claim of ecumenical cultural values. Irrespective of this, it is my understanding that we need to work on a bilateral basis with the United Kingdom, and we’re going to serve this purpose in the future in order to deepen this long-standing history, we have the two nations.

Thank you.

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