In an interview with the ANA on Friday, ahead of attending the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council (EU-GCC) Ministerial and other meetings focusing on the Middle East in Brussels on Monday, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias started by expressing his condolences for the families of those killed during the deadly terrorist attack in Nice the previous day.
“I think that we are living in a transitional period, where many people think that human life has no value or that they are justified as avengers in smiting the most precious thing that our society has, which is life itself. I condemn and we condemn as the Greek government and all Greece this brutal crime and stand by the French people and the French government. I would also like to send my condolences through the ANA to the families of the victims,” he said.
Kotzias was speaking from Ulan Bator in Mongolia, where he is attending the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit.
The Greek minister stressed the importance of the ASEM summit for finding common points of reference between Asia and Europe and for using Sino-Greek relations to benefit the Greek people and all of Europe.
The aim of the 51 countries taking part in the ASEM summit was an attempt to link Asian and European societies and economies, he said, adding that his own address to the meeting had emphasised the importance of culture and the need to find common forms of cultural activity between Asian and European states.
The minister referred to the agreement reached with his Chinese counterpart to implement Kotzias’ proposal for a union of states with a historic culture that had left its stamp on present-day human civilisation.
“Culture is not only something beautiful and good but also a gentle form of power, a ‘smart’ power that also combines economic advantages, since in the present age the industry of culture is one of the most important economic activities,” he pointed out.
On the situation in the South China Sea, Kotzias said the issue was one of a differing interpretation of international law and on the role of tradition and history between China and the seven states that had different views. He said the Greek foreign ministry had closely examined the final 475-page verdict against and found many positive points with respect to the interests and positions of Greece, as well as one or two points needing critical evaluation.
After the ASEM summit, Kotzias is due in Brussels in order to represent Greece at a working breakfast of EU fforeign ministers with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The discussion will focus on the Middle East peace process, the current situation in Syria and Libya, relations with Russia and Ukraine, and preparation for the High-Level Conference on Migration being organised by the U.S. within the framework of the UN General Assembly in September, in New York City.
Kotzias will then participate in the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), followed by the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council (EU-GCC) Ministerial Meeting, which will begin with a working dinner on the evening of the 18th and conclude with the proceedings of the plenary on 19 July. The agenda for the Ministerial includes the situation in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and the overall EU-GCC relationship.