Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said during the visit of Irish Foreign and Defence Minister Simon Coveney on Friday that relations between Greece and Ireland are based on common values and outlook, as well as respect of International Law and the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
At a joint press conference, Dendias briefed his Irish counterpart on developments in the East Mediterranean.
He said: “Ireland understands the two laws very well; after all, it has made a key contribution to the formulation of UNCLOS, especially on issues of maritime borders, the continental shelf, and islets.”
Dendias thanked Coveney for briefing him on his recent visit to the borders of Turkey and Syria, which he toured with their Norwegian counterpart, an issue of interest to Greece relative to the migration issue.
The Greek foreign minister thanked Ireland for its stance on the Cyprus issue and when Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was turned into a mosque.
They also discussed the “great margin for improvement” of economic and trade relations and mutual investments.
Dendias also referred to the two countries’ agreement in January to draw a timeline for bilateral collaboration on the diaspora, migration, inter-Atlantic relations, collaboration in the UN, trade, economy, and culture.
Particularly in terms of each country’s large diaspora, they discussed how they could exchange information on improving relations with the mother country.
In addition, Dendias also noted that Greece is always open to dialogue with other countries based on international laws, and referring to Turkey said “we are not the ones who decided to shut down communication channels, nor are we the ones who raise tension at the rhetorical level.”
He also noted that Greece and Ireland have also supported each other’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council as non-permanent members, as Ireland currently holds and Greece hopes to hold in 2025-2026, while their stance on the war in Ukraine is similar, condemning the Russian invasion and revisionism.
Following the joint press conference, the two Foreign Ministers participated in a working lunch.
Irish FM: Challenge to sovereignty of any EU state is ‘unacceptable’
Bilateral relations between Ireland and Greece “are very strong” and the two countries “are natural partners,” said Coveney in statements after his meeting with Dendias.
Coveney noted that his visit to Athens as the first Irish foreign minister after 17 years was an opportunity to discuss “very important issues that we face at European level and with our neighbours.”
These are challenges, he added, that go beyond the borders of EU member states and of the EU itself, and which can be dealt with by coordinated action at EU level.
The Irish minister pointed out that the long time gap between the visits of his country’s foreign ministers “does not indicate bad relations, but quite the opposite”, and he referred to the four presidential visits from Ireland to Greece, several visits by prime ministers, and the 100,000 Irish tourists annually.
“As I am here in Athens, it is important to make it clear and reiterate that we consider it unacceptable that the sovereignty of an EU member state should be challenged,” he noted.
European solidarity and cohesion is essential, he observed, given the war in Ukraine, and he expressed Ireland’s support in the effort to reduce tensions between the EU and Turkey.
Ongoing challenges related to Brexit were also mentioned by Coveney, noting that cooperation at EU level was of paramount importance in this matter, and he thanked Dendias for his “continuing interest in the details of this issue, and Greece ‘s continued solidarity throughout the entire process.”