Greece eyeing series of foreign policy initiatives

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is mulling a series of foreign policy moves that could potentially affect the country’s strategic relations with its neighbors and beyond, Kathimerini understands.

Among the measures, diplomatic sources told the newspaper, is the introduction of confidence-building measures between Greece and Turkey on the basis of bilateral talks.

The mood between the two NATO allies chilled recently after Ankara reserved a large area of air space over the Aegean for military maneuvers until the end of the year. Turkey eventually canceled the notice, claiming “inaccurate” coordinates.

According to the same sources, Athens plans to set up a joint experts committee in Nicosia with the aim of providing political, scientific and technical support to the Cypriot government.

Confidence-building measures could also be on the cards between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with the aim of containing irredentism in the Balkan state. No change should be expected on the name issue, however, as any concession would be a nonstarter for SYRIZA’s right-wing coalition partner and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.

Kotzias, who has raised eyebrows among Athens’s Western allies for allegedly cozying up with Moscow, is keen to promote Greece’s energy independence. A senior ministry source told Kathimerini that Athens will not put up with outside interference over pipelines passing through its territory, even less so from countries that are directly connected with Russia – an obvious reference to Nord Stream, the Russian-German gas pipeline that goes under the Baltic Sea.

Relations with China are also in the spotlight. Kotzias and Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis will visit Beijing in the coming days to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit, likely in May.

Finally coalition officials are eyeing measures to protect Christian communities in the Middle East, a cause that has gained support in the EU, US and Russia. Among the goals is to organize an international meeting in the near future.

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