A pillar of stability for the wider region
Greece's geostrategic position and proactive foreign policy are key for EU border security and the countering of terrorism
Greece is now recognized as a regional “pillar of stability”. How are you redefining foreign relations?
We find ourselves in a triangle resulting from instability. Its corners are defined by Ukraine, Libya and Syria. Our duty is to find ways to transmit waves of stability along this triangle. We have created very specific relations with some countries which are very important for the security of the whole region. As an example, a cause of concern of mine is Egypt, a country of 97 million people. South of Egypt are Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. If Egypt were destabilized, millions of refugees or immigrants would have easier access to Greece. Human rights are extremely important, but we also need stability and security in that whole region. Another example is Syria. For its sake, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean are very important. We cannot “play” with the lives of people.
How is Greece providing regional stability?
Our relations with Lebanon and Jordan, for example, are not only focused on economic diplomacy, but also on educational and cultural diplomacy. They host the largest number of refugees in the world, compared to their population. With Greece’s help and initiative, the European Union is creating new programs for them. For example, we have put together a new project for five zones in Jordan, where Jordanian citizens along with refugees can settle and plan their lives in the long term. Through these relations and the Rhodes Conference on Security and Stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, we have tried to create a positive regional agenda. That means not having always to discuss how we can find a solution to a war-crisis, but, instead, to discuss how we can create a plan of cooperation for promoting stability and security, building a positive agenda and reaching out to young people. We have to create positive conditions for the young in their homelands and ensure they can easily create start-ups. Our cooperation with Israel, for example, is doing this sort of thing.
How can the EU tackle migration?
It has to have more courage and face the real problem of migration. Migrants are coming not only from Syria, but also from Northern Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the future, migrants will mostly come from Africa, due to climate change. We need an international development plan and a project like our Jordan one, but much bigger. We need to implement treaties and offer monetary assistance to these countries to control refugee flows. In my opinion, you can’t build walls. We have to find long-term solutions. Now, we have a very specific situation in Syria. We have to find a solution for the refugees, but at the same time to fight against the war in Syria.
Obama chose Athens as one of his last stops as president. What is the future of US-Greece relations?
It was very important for him to speak in Athens about democracy, and he stood up for the country where democracy was born and protested against those who only think in terms of economics. I had established channels of communication with the Trump administration before the elections. I hope and wish that we will have good cooperation with the new administration.