Kotzias says US, Greece on same page after Washington visit


Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told reporters shortly before returning to Athens from a visit to Washington on Wednesday that the US will continue to support Greece in its relations with the eurozone and its demand for debt relief from its creditors.

During his two-day trip to the US, Kotzias sought to highlight Greece’s value as a bastion of stability in a volatile area and as a prospective regional energy hub.

Kotzias said he was confident that leading US officials acknowledge Greece’s geostrategic value, and that there was “agreement over the great need for stability and security in the region.”

More specifically, in his final meeting before heading back to Athens, with US National Security Adviser Lt Gen H.R. McMaster, Kotzias outlined the importance of the ties Greece has nurtured, along with key ally Cyprus, with Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian authority.

He also referred to efforts to boost ties with Armenia and Georgia.

With regard to the stalled UN-backed peace talks to reunify the island of Cyprus, Kotzias told McMaster that the root cause of the problem is Turkey’s military presence on the island and Ankara’s insistence that a settlement should include a system of third-party guarantees.

Cyprus, he said, must be spared the presence of foreign troops, and Turkey must understand that it cannot demand “special privileges of intervention.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas downplayed recent speculation that Greece is preparing for huge arms deals. “I hear of a dance to the tune of billions. There is no such dance,” he said, insisting that procurements will remain within Greece’s fiscal limits.