01/11/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/11/2023 13:19
It is a great pleasure to be here in Côte d' Ivoire. I have the honour to be the first Greek Foreign Minister to have ever visited this beautiful and important country and I have the additional honour to be received by the President of Côte d'Ivoire and submit to him the proposal of my President Katerina Sakellaropoulou to visit Greece at his earliest convenience. The purpose of my visit here is to enhance our bilateral cooperation and enhance our relations with your very important country. And I have to say how confident I am that the relations between our two countries can be further developed. Our geographic proximity and the interrelated challenges such as migration, terrorism, the need for economic growth, the need for creating a better life for our citizens make Côte d'Ivoire a very important partner for us. Also, we are observing that you are one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and we are ready to take concrete steps to strengthen our relations with you.
I am also pleased that the President, but also my colleague the Foreign Minister, acknowledge the need, the necessity of investments in Côte d'Ivoire. Our job is to create a framework to facilitate these investments, to facilitate the growth of our economic relations. I have to say that today we start doing this by signing a Memorandum on bilateral cooperation between our diplomatic services. So, we have the chance to understand each other better, but also we have forwarded a draft on an MoU on military training, which we can discuss and hopefully sign in the future.
I have to say that Greece is interested in examining potential investment opportunities in Côte d'Ivoire. Greece has important experience in tourism, important experience in construction, both in urban and rural projects, important experience producing advanced building materials, in producing energy, especially from renewables, to address at the same time climate change, in water and waste management, information and telecommunications technology, and in health services. I am absolutely certain that we could create the circumstances in which our business communities could work together and create successful projects.
Also, I had the pleasure to say to the President but also to my dear colleague that Greece is a big maritime power. The Greek-owned fleet, the Greek-owned commercial fleet is the biggest fleet in the world. Just to give you one small example, 50% of the Grain exports from Ukraine are transported by Greek-owned ships. And, as you know very well, the Gulf of Guinea is a very important maritime route. And security in the Gulf of Guinea is very high on our agenda.
I am also looking forward to my discussions with the Minister in order to get a clearer understanding of the overall security challenges in this very important region of the world.
And I would like to repeat my congratulations to the President of Côte d'Ivoire for the responsible and wise and successful work when he dealt with the crisis of the 49 soldiers who have been detained for months by the Malian authorities.
I cannot describe to you how happy we were to see that this was resolved in a peaceful way. And we were aware of the challenges that were presented to Ivory Coast by this detention over these long six months. So, again, allow me to repeat our warmest congratulations.
I would like to move to another subject, on the subject of international organisations. We very much appreciate our common support agreement for candidacies in the UN Security Council; Greece has supported your candidacy for the election in the period 2018-2019 and Ivory Coast would support our candidacy for 2025-2026. So, I would like to thank you for this support.
Greece became a member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie in 2006. This is another international organisation in which we would like very much to work together.
Last but not least, Greece is a proud member of the European Union family. And as you know there are a lot of projects and initiatives that the European Union supports in Africa. We would like to work through the Team Europe approach in order to facilitate projects, cooperations and common understanding in our European capacity. We always believed that Europe needs to understand Africa more. And also, Europe has to appreciate that Africa is not a distant continent but a newer "abroad" for you. And also, that the sea, both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, are not seas that divide Europe from Africa. Rather the opposite. They are bridges of communication. And they have to be perceived and addressed in that way.
We are very happy also that Côte d'Ivoire is a proud member of the Friends of UNCLOS. For Greece, International Law and International Law of the Sea is the holy gospel, the sacred book of our foreign policy. And we are happy to discuss and work with countries and leaders that have the same approach we have. We are looking forward to exchanging opinions and ideas on this cooperation.
Last but not least, Ukraine. Unfortunately, our generation saw a war in the European continent following the unlawful Russian invasion of Ukraine. Humanity, after the Second World War, especially Europe, has lived with the hope that war will not return. We were wrong. That is something that should give us more and more resolve in order for this to create an example to show that any breach of international law, not respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries is something that cannot be accepted by the international community. And I would like to openly praise Côte d'Ivoire for the clear and principled stance on this unlawful invasion of a sovereign country.
Allow me to say how happy I am to be today in Abidjan, how impressed I was with the discussion with the President and how happy I am for my discussion with my dear colleague, the Foreign Minister. Allow me to drink, also, to the friendship of the Hellenic Republic and Côte d'Ivoire, for the health of the President and for the health of my dear friend the Foreign Minister.