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Politics

Greek FM Gerapetritis Speaks about Greece’s Security Council Candidacy, Foreign Affairs, and the Diaspora

ATHENS – Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis is traveling to New York for the June 6th vote that will select the countries to be the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council 2025-2026. Greece is seeking its third term – the previous two times were 1952-1953 and 2005-2006. On the occasion of this trip, Mr. Gerapetritis gave an interview to The National Herald in which he referred to both the significance to Greece of the upcoming election to the UN Security Council and a series of other important foreign policy issues.

The full interview follows:

The National Herald: It will undoubtedly be a significant personal achievement and a general success for the government to obtain the status of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. What opportunities does this give us and how do you intend to utilize them?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: The upcoming election of Greece as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2025-2026 will be a significant success for our foreign policy. It will not only enhance our country’s international prestige but also establish its ability to co-shape global policy through decisions and resolutions and maximize its international capital. Our election will be the culmination of a national campaign, which was organized and implemented systematically, utilizing every opportunity and creating the right conditions to secure the widest possible support.

To promote the message of our candidacy, which is encapsulated in the triad Dialogue-Diplomacy-Democracy, we held dozens of meetings. During my upcoming visit to New York next week, I will have the opportunity to conduct a final round of contacts to promote our candidacy, meet with the UN Secretary-General, and to be present during process for Greece’s election to the Security Council.
It will be the third time in history that Greece will have the honor and responsibility of being a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. However, this time is fundamentally different from the previous ones. This is because the degree of complexity in the global arena is extremely high today. From this position, our country will contribute constructively to addressing international challenges, defending the peaceful resolution of disputes, respecting International Law and the principles and rules of the United Nations Charter, implementing the ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ agenda, maritime security, protecting children’s rights in armed conflicts, and combating climate change.
In an international environment characterized by escalating instability and aggression, with our participation, we undertake the responsibility to work for the universal good and the prosperity of future generations.

TNH: The end of the war in Ukraine is not yet on the horizon. How concerned are you about its continuation and what are its impacts on Greece so far?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: From the very first moment of the unprovoked Russian invasion, Greece stood in solidarity with Ukraine and its just struggle for the defense of its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence. For us, it is a matter of principle to support the full implementation of International Law and to stand against aggression and revisionism. The war in Ukraine threatens not only European security but also global peace and stability. It has enormous regional and international consequences: millions of refugees, the destruction of infrastructure, massive environmental destruction, a threat to Europe’s energy security, and global food security. Greece, together with allies and partners, is working both bilaterally and within the framework of the EU and NATO to mitigate the impacts of the war and to assist Ukraine in various ways. At the same time, we are contributing decisively to European energy policies aimed at reducing energy costs. With the infrastructure for the interconnection of vertical natural gas corridors, the energy infrastructure of Revithoussa, and the upgrade of [facilities in] Alexandroupolis, with the upcoming operation of a floating storage and regasification unit for liquefied natural gas, our country plays a crucial role in European energy diversification and security.

TNH: The war in Gaza is raging. Netanyahu is under pressure even from Israel’s traditional allies to stop the war. Recently, three European countries recognized the state of Palestine. How do you assess this development?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: The crisis in the Middle East is a very deep wound, primarily humanitarian but also geopolitical. Greece unequivocally condemned the heinous terrorist attacks of October 7 by Hamas against Israel and laid out points that must be respected immediately by all sides. At the same time, we are in a position -thanks to our relationships with all involved parties – to operate constructively, aiming to prevent further worsening of the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The longstanding position of Greek foreign policy is the resolution of the Middle Eastern conflict based on the United Nations Security Council resolution for expanded rights of the Palestinian Authority in the General Assembly and remains unwavering in its [support] of the fundamental principle of a two-state solution. The ‘next day’ for Palestine can only be, as stipulated in the Security Council resolutions, the recognition of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and within the pre-1967 borders. Recognizing the Palestinian state is primarily a matter of international legal order, which is why we voted in favor of the resolutions for the expanded participation of the country in the General Assembly. Currently, our priority, and it must be, is the immediate cessation of hostilities, the release of hostages, the protection of all civilians, the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority, and the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid through the opening of multiple humanitarian corridors. In this context, I proposed at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council the establishment of a special Task Force, consisting of European and Arab Foreign Ministers, who will communicate with all parties and who, in a coordinated manner, will jointly promote efforts for peace in the region.

TNH: What is the status of Greek-Turkish relations after the recent meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: The Greek-Turkish rapprochement is being conducted step by step and is marked by chronological milestones and meetings, during which we discuss bilateral and regional issues, assess the progress made, and initiate collaborations within the framework of a positive agenda. After the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Turkish President, we are moving towards a greater level of normalization, that is, a state-to-state dialogue occurring between the political leaderships of the two countries. We have made progress in areas concerning, among others, Migration, Civil Protection, Trade, Economy, and Tourism. As the Prime Minister himself emphasized, in Ankara, we showed that alongside our disagreements, we can also write a parallel page with our agreements. A climate of mutual understanding has been established, within which we can discuss even difficult issues without causing a crisis. Our basic positions will not change, as they are part of our national strategy. What we aim for through the Greek-Turkish rapprochement is, first of all, to have a period of calm without tension and threats in the Aegean. Our goal is to maintain this approach to create a secure environment for future generations.

TNH: It has been often said recently that Greek-U.S. relations are at their best ever level. What is the reason for this?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: Indeed, Greek-U.S. relations are at their peak. Through our strategic dialogue, we are strengthening policies based on common values, coordinating, and enhancing our close political, economic, cultural, and defense ties, creating a shared vision. The Greek-American Community is an excellent bridge of friendship and understanding between the two peoples. The high level of our bilateral relations is due to Greece’s tangible demonstration of being a reliable ally of the United States, so that together we contribute to regional and global stability. We work together within NATO to address very significant threats, as our region has open fronts, such as the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, and simultaneously, the great instability in the South Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the Sahel region. At the same time, with the U.S., we are working constructively to address new pressing global challenges such as climate change, migration, pandemics, and cybersecurity. Greece, a country with a stable political environment and significant economic growth conditions, has in recent years welcomed landmark investments from major American companies, including Pfizer, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, right, speaks during the signing ceremony of the Artemis Agreement for the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue with, on Friday, February 9, 2024, at the State Department in Washington. AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

The geostrategic role of Greece, defense cooperation, the upgrading of very significant energy infrastructure, and Greece’s contribution to Europe’s energy security expand our allied relationship and cooperation. With the U.S., we are building a solid and strong alliance for the good of both countries, as well as for the further consolidation of regional and international peace and security.

TNH: Recently, leaders of North Macedonia have brazenly violated the Prespa Agreement regarding the name of their state. Albania also appears to be acting provocatively against us. What is happening?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: Regarding North Macedonia, recent statements by the President and the head of VMRO-DPMNE undermine the letter and spirit of the Prespa Agreement, which binds all current and future leaderships of North Macedonia. We have emphasized North Macedonia’s obligation to fully comply with the Prespa Agreement and its constitutional name and have highlighted in all international forums the need for consistent and good-faith implementation. I would like to remind you that the current Greek government, when it was in opposition, had pointed out the legal and technical issues presented by the Prespa Agreement. However, it had made it clear that once this Agreement was ratified by the Greek Parliament, it would bind the country. A fundamental principle of International Law is the adherence to agreed terms. Greece consistently supports International Law and respects the Agreement as a ratified International Treaty. We demand the same from North Macedonia. Regarding Albania, we clearly state that respect for the rule of law, democracy, and minority rights is not a bilateral issue but a requirement of EU Law. It is self-evident that compliance with these fundamental guarantees will be evaluated within the framework of the country’s accession process. In any case, I would like to emphasize as a matter of principle that the future of the Western Balkan countries depends on adherence to rules, principles, and obligations, through strict application of the European acquis. Greece has consistently supported the integration of the Western Balkans into the European family. However, this European perspective is governed by rules and obligations. It is not a blank check.

TNH: What message would you like to send to the Greek diaspora in the U.S. and to the Hellenic diaspora in general?

Giorgos Gerapetritis: The Hellenic diaspora is a bridge connecting the U.S. with the homeland. The message I would like to address to our expatriates is that we are particularly proud of them and their achievements. Our expatriates are a tangible example of successful integration into American society while simultaneously preserving Greek traditions and their ties with Greece. The dynamic Greek communities significantly contribute to the positive perception of Greece in the U.S., to strengthening our already strong bilateral relations, and to the coordinated and effective promotion of Greek positions. Greece wants to keep the Greek diaspora close. Mainly through digitization, significant efforts are being made to improve the provision of consular services and to bring the diaspora into closer contact with the Greek language and culture. Furthermore, at the economic level, I would like to encourage our expatriates to invest in Greece, which has now become an investment-friendly environment. Our diaspora is the great strength of Hellenism. We always want them close to us in metropolitan Greece, and as a government, we serve them with unwavering dedication.

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