The following are extracts from the interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias (elected through SYRIZA ballot) to the German TV networks ZDF and ARD, during his visit to Riga.
Journalist: Mr. Minister, what is your view of the EU stance toward Ukraine?
N. Kotzias: We have already stated that we want peace in Europe, peace and stability in Ukraine. We support the Ukrainian government in its struggle to obtain the country's independence and to safeguard its sovereign rights. [...]
Journalist: Are you satisfied with the EU stance toward Russia?
N. Kotzias: The EU stance toward Russia was shaped through the contribution of Greece as well, and I am satisfied with it.
Journalist: Will you discuss the issue of sanctions?
N. Kotzias: We are a country that has already imposed sanctions. Twenty years ago, Greece imposed sanctions on the FYROM. That was a mistake. Given our experience, we have to say that sanctions are not certain to be constructive or successful. The sanctions we support are the ones that will allow Russia to sit at the negotiating table. We don't support sanctions caused by ire. Our goal is to make Russia respect what was agreed at Minsk, to materialize what was agreed on.
Journalist: Do you believe this has been attained?
N. Kotzias: The sanctions that have been imposed have created economic problems in Russia, but that is not important in my view, and should not be the goal of the sanctions. In the last few days, Russia has shown the will to respect the Minsk agreement. I recently had the chance to express my gratitude to Germany and France for what they achieved.
Journalist: Do you think there is far too much discussion on Ukraine in Europe?
N. Kotzias: We must not only discuss the issue of Ukraine or the issue of Jihadists, but also the future of Europe, as well as our vision on what Europe we want. We need to return to European values. I am very worried about whether Europe's young generation, particularly in the countries of the South, the students of today, will be happy with Europe in 10-20 years, whether they will be pro-European when today they keep hearing about sanctions, penalties and memoranda. [...]
Journalist: If I understand well, you will pose an issue of vetoing the sanctions.
Ν. Kotzias: When we are in the negotiation stage, I cannot discuss the negotiations, because then they wouldn't be negotiations.
Journalist: This means...
Ν. Κotzias: It means nothing at all. We will negotiate and we will see how we proceed. There are countries that support the sanctions and countries whose interests are hurt by the sanctions. Good, let's talk about the imposition of sanctions. My country is experiencing an economic crisis and the imposed embargo is too expensive for us and our agricultural production. I understand the countries that have no economic relations with Russia, I understand the countries that support the imposition of sanctions, but do not apply the sanctions. But we will need to discuss what happens with Greece and the financial problems sanctions cause us; how we will recoup economic losses caused by sanctions.
Journalist: Is there a correlation for you between consenting to the imposition of sanctions and to the continuation of economic aid (to Greece)?
N. Kotzias: I never made such a correlation in speaking on the issue of sanctions. But we will have to see how the financial losses caused by sanctions will be recouped within the EU. This has nothing whatsoever to do with financial aid. [...]
Left.gr, transl. Lenin Reloaded.