ATHENS — "It is clear that we are determined to protect the EU's external borders and strongly support Greece's sovereignty," High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Wednesday in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, following their visit to Kastanies, Evros.
Borrell thanked Dendias for the invitation, the warm welcome and for accompanying him on his visit to the region, at the "borders of Greece and also the borders of the European Union," as well as the Army and police officers who briefed him on everything that happened in the area a few months ago.
"I wanted to come here and see for myself the situation on the EU's external borders," he said, adding that this, combined with information received from Dendias, the Greek army and police, allowed him to better understand the situation that Greece faced and may face again in the future.
Regarding the meetings he will have in the afternoon, in Athens, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Borrell noted that talks are expected to focus on the situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. He noted his awareness of Turkey's drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean but also the violations of Greek airspace that have worsened the situation between Greece and Turkey and, consequently, in Euro-Turkish relations.
"We share your concern, we discussed how we could stop the dynamics of escalation (tension)", he said and expressed confidence that in the meetings he will have in Athens in the afternoon "we will be able to develop a common agenda to strengthen co-operation on these issues of common interest but also to seek dialogue with Turkey in order to protect our interests and strengthen regional stability."
"No one has more important reasons than Greece to have good neighborly relations with Turkey because, at the end of the day, we should be good neighbours. After all, this is why the European Union was founded, in order to have good relations," he said, adding that it would be in the interests of the EU, Turkey and Greece to try to resolve current difficulties and to improve relations.
He even referred to the EU's example of good neighbourliness, saying "the EU is the best example in the world of how you can improve relations with your neighbours."
Borrell also mentioned Frontex's presence in the region, and the roughly "100 staff from 20 different countries who will remain here to demonstrate the EU's support," he said.