Allow me first of all to express Greece’s full solidarity to our EU partner, friend and NATO Ally Poland, and express our condolences to the government and the people of Poland.
I am so happy to be back in Rome. It is also a particular honour to be received soon after you assumed your functions.
I was happy to discuss today with a man, the Minister, who has dedicated himself to the European project. Allow me also to underline the very close bond between our countries. Today, we are very close partners within the European Union, in NATO, in the Med Group and in many other International Organisations.
Italy is Greece’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade last year alone was worth more than 9 billion Euros.
Greek companies have invested in Italy, while major Italian companies have chosen Greece as their investment destination.
Two years ago, I had the honour and pleasure to sign an Agreement delimiting our Exclusive Economic Zones. An Agreement based on International Law and the International Law of the Sea.
Interestingly, today is the 28th anniversary of the coming into force of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
What we have done together shows that our countries have chosen the path of peace, cooperation, friendship, all this based on shared values. And we wish all the countries around the Mediterranean would choose the same path, the same example to follow, like Greece and Italy.
Today, we had the pleasure to address a series of common challenges. First of all, the diversification of energy sources. Energy is a huge issue, in Europe, in the world today. I had the pleasure to inform you that Greece is becoming an energy hub, through our common project, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, but also through the regasification units we have in the country, in Revythousa, in Alexandroupolis, and we are building a new one in Corinth.
I briefed you on the seismic explorations conducted in the Ionian Sea and South-west of Crete, based on our delimitation Agreement. Again, always committed to the International Law of the Sea and by fully respecting the sovereign rights of other states.
We focused, as you were kind enough to mention, on the challenges caused by illegal migration. We are facing this challenge, as you are, on a daily basis. And we, Greece and Italy, as front-line states, have to work closely together in order to tackle this pan-European challenge.
We had also, in particular, to address a series of regional developments, starting with Libya.
Tomorrow, as I informed you, I am going to visit Benghazi. A port project funded by Greece to help the Libyan society. I am also expecting to meet the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives and other officials, carrying two messages: A need to ensure a process that will allow the holding of elections in Libya, with the withdrawal of foreign forces. And also, this has to do a lot with the destabilising actions of the Tripoli government affecting the peace and stability in the region. And I refer to the illegal “memoranda” signed with Turkey.
Rejected outright by the Libyan Parliament and the majority of the members of the High Council of State.
And please allow me to thank Italy for supporting the EU position rejecting the Turkish-Libyan “MoU”, an illegal, void and irrational memorandum. Let me give you an example; it is as if Greece and Tunisia decided to delimit EEZ in the Central Mediterranean with Tunisia, ignoring the presence of Sicily.
Also, we discussed the challenges posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fact that we share common principles with our European friends and partners.
I provided you with a briefing on the challenges we are facing from our eastern neighbour, Turkey. And this is very important for us, because Italy is a signatory of the Lausanne Treaty and of the Paris Treaty.
We talked about the Western Balkans, whose European perspective both countries support. But there are challenges.
And also, we discussed how we can move closer to cooperate within the European framework to address not only the challenges of today, but also the challenges of tomorrow.
Thank you so much for the pleasure of seeing you here at the Farnesina.
Source: Hellenic Republic – Ministry of Foreign Affairs