The message that the settlement currently prevailing in the Aegean is a necessary condition for it to thrive a new beginning in Greek-Turkish relations and that additional continuity and consistency will be needed in a positive perspective of true friendship, peace and cooperation, the new foreign minister sent George Gerapetritis in an interview with “Daily”.

“The continuation of the climate of calm and avoidance of tension is in itself a mutually beneficial situation, a great achievement. The climate of confrontation that prevailed for a long time in the past has been extremely detrimental both to the two countries and to regional stability. The duty of the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey is to explore the possibilities of consolidating and developing this good atmosphere, promoting the road map and more broadly developing multi-level relations of bilateral cooperation. Good relationships they will pave the way for meaningful discussions. We are not there yet, but with a strong political mandate and with our significant international capital, I think the time has come to face the wounds of the past and the challenges of the future. A bold agenda, a legacy for future generations,” he stressed.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s meeting Kyriakou Mitsotakis with the president of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan in Vilnius, Lithuania, on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Mr. Gerapetritis noted that it was done in an atmosphere of desire for mutual understanding. “We are starting a dialogue process with good intentions and we want this new effort to be characterized by honesty and trust. A first step has been taken” he equally announced.

In this context, he expressed the desire of the Greek government to create a climate of cooperation and dialogue, while underlining that he personally looks forward to building a reliable and stable relationship with his Turkish counterpart. Hakan Fidanwith which he has already taken the first steps for a direct, meaningful channel of communication, as he pointed out.

At the same time, he did not want to prejudge the result of the effort restart of the Greek-Turkish talks, emphasizing, however, that it is worth building on the positive climate of the last few months and on the joint statement of the leaders of the two countries after their recent meeting. “In other words, let’s proceed with a rapprochement process under the political supervision and responsibility of the two foreign ministers. This process will include three pillars: the political dialogue, the positive cooperation agenda in individual fields and the Confidence Building Measures. Important milestones of this road map will be the holding of the 4th High Council of Greek-Turkish Cooperation in Thessaloniki within the year and my periodic contacts with my Turkish counterpart. In this context, the two leaders may also meet within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, next September in New York,” he explained.

George Gerapetritis distinguished two goals in the calm atmosphere that has prevailed in the Aegean. “On the one hand, to limit the potential risks from any operational activities. On the other hand, to have a continuous direct communication mechanism for de-escalation when crises arise in the field.” He estimated that it is the common will of the parties to maintain these conditions.

Regarding Turkey’s relations with the West, especially with the European Union, the Minister of Foreign Affairs estimated that their progress would contribute to the calm in an extremely fragile region and emphasized at the same time: “But vice versa, the progress in the normalization of Greece’s relations- of Turkey is an essential element for the EU-Turkey rapprochement”. In any case, Giorgos Gerapetritis made it clear, Greece will have an active role in the European Council in whatever decisions and conclusions are adopted for Turkey.

Making his mark, the new foreign minister made it clear that our country is not heterodox in its foreign policy and emphasized the strengthening of active extroversion and public diplomacy, as well as building a multimodal foreign policy. He stated that his intention is to work so that the Greeks feel proud and protected and underlined that his aim is to continue a foreign policy of principles and rules. In fact, he expressed the conviction that “we cannot distance ourselves from established positions of international law, such as in particular the principles of the UN charter, respect for sovereignty and sovereign rights, adherence to universal rights”.

Furthermore, he pointed out that Hellas has secured unprecedented energy autonomy and has evolved into a hub that contributes decisively to Europe’s energy diversification and independence. An indicative result of this policy, as he mentioned, is that last May the country secured 50% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources, which is a huge step towards its independence from fossil fuels. “We will continue to proceed independently with a view to the energy autonomy of the country” he additionally emphasized.

He made special reference to Greece’s relations with the USA, pointing out that they are at their best point in history. “On the basis of the updated defense cooperation agreement, with which Greece’s strategic position was qualitatively upgraded, we have cultivated a strong defense cooperation and are deepening our political dialogue. In the context of this cooperation, it is normal and expected that there will be further strengthening of our defense systems by the USA”, he noted.

At this point he made special mention to Congress, stating that it has already been clearly stated that sales of defense equipment must take into account stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and in particular cannot be used against NATO allies.

The new Foreign Minister made a separate reference to the Cyprus issue. “For Greece, finding a fair, sustainable, functional and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue is a top foreign policy priority” he underlined and expressed our country’s support for creating the conditions for resolving the Cyprus issue. “We unwaveringly support a solution of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation in the framework formed by the decisions of the UN Security Council and the European acquis and we do not accept any discussion of a two-state solution,” Giorgos Gerapetritis said clearly.

Referring to the first visit he made as Minister of Foreign Affairs to Cyprus, he pointed out that the common understanding is that the European position, as reflected in the conclusions of the last European Council, expressing the readiness of the Union to play an active supporting role at all stages of the process under the United Nations, opens an important window of opportunity.

Furthermore, he highlighted the “important role” played by Greece in the Western Balkans, stressing that our country remains firmly committed to their development, security, prosperity and European path, as their integration and European perspective is necessary for the security and absolute interest of the Union itself. More specifically, he expressed Greece’s support for the European path of Serbia and Montenegro and for the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the efforts of the Union’s Special Representative in this direction. Equally stable, he underlined, is the will of Greece for the integration of North Macedonia into the EU, in the context of the consistent and good faith implementation of the Prespa Agreement.

As far as Albania is concerned, pointed out that it is obvious that its European course is directly related to the need to comply with the fundamental rules of the rule of law. In fact, he made a special reference to the issue of the arrest and detention of the elected mayor of Heimarra Freddy Beleris, making it clear that it is not only a thorn in bilateral relations but also a test for the rule of law in the neighboring country.

Finally, Giorgos Gerapteritis praised his human potential Ministry of Foreign Affairs and answering a question if the time has come for some changes that will make the service more efficient but also more active, he expressed his intention to work systematically to strengthen the budget, modernize administrative structures and procedures, digital upgrade, investment in education, lifelong learning and the cultivation of new skills.