Meeting of NIKO Dendias with his Austrian counterpart
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statements following his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg
I am very pleased to be in Vienna again today. As you were kind enough to say, this is one of our many meetings. And, also, on Saturday, on the sideliners of the Delphi Forum, I had the pleasure of meeting Chancellor Nehammer.
Today, we discussed ways to enhance even more our relations, as much as possible. Economic relations is a field in which we can do more. We will be very happy to attract even more investments from Austria.
There is lots we can do on energy. Thank you for mentioning it. The electrical interconnector between Greece, Austria and Germany through Albania and the Western Balkans could be an important item on the future energy cooperation between us.
Also, we discussed the need to raise awareness and to enhance effectiveness, at international level, in combatting illicit trafficking of cultural goods and in protecting cultural heritage.
And, to this end, please allow me to express my deep satisfaction for the announcement you have just made during your remarks, having to do with the Parthenon fragments, the two fragments here in Vienna, rather big ones; one is 25cm, the other one is 65cm. And I have to say, this will add to a series of highly symbolic gestures that may create a positive momentum. The Regional Government of Sicily in 2022 and Pope Francis in January 2023 returned to Greece parts of the Parthenon Sculptures. So, this will be the third one. And this for us is of huge importance.
And, also, besides this very fact, we believe that we created a momentum which we could use in our discussions in London, which I hope I will be able to successfully conduct at the end of the day.
We discussed about our close cooperation in the European Union and in International Organisations, such as the United Nations. As you know, we have mutually supported our candidacies. Thank you for your support for our bid for the UN Security Council.
Also, thank you for your support in migration. Thank you for realising how difficult it is sometimes.
We discussed, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and our common position that respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty should always be on our agenda.
I would like to thank you, on another issue, for your contribution to UNFICYP in Cyprus. We are deeply in gratitude to Austria.
And thank you for your remarks on the Εastern Mediterranean. I have to say things are much calmer now. Yet, we know that we could count, and we can count, and we will count on your support. We are pragmatists. We hope that after the Turkish elections we may be able to try again to find a way out on our difference with Türkiye. But, of course, that can only be based on International Law and the International Law of the Sea.
Again, Austria speaks about International Law of the Sea. Austria is a proud example because Austria is a land-locked country and, yet again, is a signatory and has ratified UNCLOS, on International Law of the Sea. I hope that other countries will follow your proud example. There are not many that have not subscribed to it, but there is one, it is quite important for us.
Thank you so much. It was such a great pleasure to be again in Vienna today. Thank you, Alexander.
JOURNALIST: You are also going to meet Mr Rafael Grossi today. What is the purpose of your meeting? Is it about the new Turkish power plant that you have likened to Chernobyl? What is the position of Greece, what steps do you want to take?
DENDIAS: Thank you for the question. Of course, I didn’t say that Akkuyu, if that’s the one you mean, is Chernobyl; far from it. What I expressed, and I always express, is my anxiety that the norms according to which any nuclear station operates are to the highest level. And, let me say, Akkuyu for us is right next door. So, of course, the fact that Rafael Grossi was there makes me calmer. But I’d like to learn from him the status of that nuclear reactor.
But it’s not only that, it’s not the main issue of the meeting. The nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia poses a direct threat to the overall region, to Greece, but I believe, also to Austria. And I would like to be informed on what is happening there and how we could be of assistance to him. I discussed that with him last year and I am going to discuss this with him during this visit to Vienna as well.
JOURNALIST: There is also a deep crisis in Sudan at the moment and the UN expects around 800.000 refugees because of the fights there. Do you also expect refugees from Sudan in Greece?
DENDIAS: We just finished the evacuation operation of Greek citizens from Sudan. Unfortunately, the situation in Khartoum and Darfur is not getting any better. So, yes, refugees are expected to move from Sudan to safer areas. What I hope we can do and facilitate is that they stay next to the Sudanese border, while we are trying our best to bring a truce and a normalisation at a later stage. Then, leaving Sudan for Europe, I don’t think that helps them and I don’t think that helps you.