A step toward accepting the election of Fredi Beleri as mayor of Himare was made through the decision of the Albanian court and a statement made by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama but one more step was now required, Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis said in an interview with ERT state television on Thursday.
He also repeated a message to Albania that there will be “no concessions in anything that concerns the rule of law, civil rights, the presumption of innocence of Fredi Beleri, no concessions in what concerns the rights of the minority.”
He said that Greece respects Albanian justice but considers that there must be the political will so that Beleri can assume his duties as mayor, while noting that it was a positive step that the Albanian prime minister had accepted the court’s reasoning that Beleri was the new elected mayor and that the former mayor must definitely step down and stop exercising mayoral duties.
“Following this, we must assess to what extent the next actions are compatible with those things we have set as a condition,” Gerapetritis added.
The foreign minister then turned to Greek-Turkish relations, noting that the success of the dialogue with Turkiye will depend on how well it is organised. “There is sincerity but the most important thing is for the dialogue to be structured,” he said. Gerapetritis added that his own inclination, based on the orders given to him by the prime minister and when the time for this was ripe, was to also discuss the thorniest and sole difference that could be settled via international arbitration.
He said the two countries were currently striving to establish a good climate and continue a period of calm in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, in order to establish the sincerity of the two sides. He said the 15 agreements signed by Greece and Turkiye must be implemented, saying that the indicator for passing from the relative easy to more difficult issues would be to implement what was agreed.
Regarding the delineation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf, he noted that this was a technical and not a political issue, which required political will to be discussed, while expressing his faith in discussion and dialogue for finding solutions.
At the same time, he made it clear that issues pertaining to Greek sovereignty will never be discussed by him. Asked to comment on the Athens Declaration signed by Greece and Turkiye, he said that this was in no way deleterious to national interests while stressing that this was the first instance of a written text in which Turkiye expressly agreed to proceeding on the basis of international law. He underlined that issues of sovereignty were not part of the Declaration, while noting that the Athens Declaration was the first text talking of friendship and good neighbourliness after 93 years.
Gerapetritis next referred to Greece’s role in the Middle East, the efforts to create a sea corridor and announced that Greece will take further initiatives for a humanitarian pause in Gaza and the start of a discussion on the future in the Middle East. “Without a sustainable, long-term solution, I am afraid that any interim solution will only be temporary,” he said.
On Greece’s participation in the naval force to protect shipping in the Red Sea, the foreign minister spoke of an “active and versatile diplomacy of principles” and noted that Greece was present in international developments. He also noted that the Greek fleet was “one of the most important matters that we have a duty fo protect”.