Official hashtag: #RhodeSeConf
Excerpts from Greek Foreign Minister opening address (Greece MFA site)
"Present in our meeting are Middle Eastern countries that are either in or contiguous to the Mediterranean Basin. They are the heart of the Arab world. The Mediterranean and the Arab world: theirs is a centuries-long marriage. We are also joined by SE European EU member-states and SE European EU candidates. Last but not least, the President of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, our dear Miroslav, is in attendance."
"In essence, this is the very first meeting of SE European states and their Arab peers. The Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean share a geographic continuum where multiple problems, opportunities and potential ‘intersect’: refugees, trade, transport, economic migrants. We have a lot in common and there is ample scope for all that is connecting us to multiply and develop even more."
"Peace means terminating chaos in Libya."
"Peace means terminating war in Syria and Iraq."
"Peace means acknowledging the great work Jordan and Lebanon are doing in healing the consequences the war had upon huge part of the population. It means offering them economic support, especially on the part of the EU. The overall aim is not merely providing for the needs of refugee groups, but moreover, creating new economic structures, as well as agricultural, productive and industrial zones, to combat unemployment among those populations. "
"NE Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East constitute a single geostrategic whole and form a specific area that of the E. Mediterranean and its periphery. This is the place where great civilizations and some of the most important religions of the modern world were born. China apart, this is the place where science, arts, literature and trade were, more than anywhere else, developed for millennia on end."
"40% of the world’s energy reserves get shipped through the Mediterranean, its major maritime hubs and communication channels with routes comprising the Suez, Hormuz, and Aden, all the way to Gibraltar."
"This region has given ample evidence to the fact that through synergies between different cultures and religions we may aim for greatness."
"Today, the Balkan countries are paying, through the refugee crisis, the toll for a war they are not parties to. We neither started this war, nor did we decide or wage it."
"The biggest refugee population is now in Turkey, which is carrying a huge burden. The same goes for Lebanon and Jordan."
"Our region is rich in raw materials, with plenty artisanal small enterprises and human resources. We must find a way to make full use of existing
resources and attract more."
"I suggest the enhancement of our cooperation all the way from universities and research centres, to finding new methods and ways for organizing production."
"They are networks of smugglers and traffickers of terrorists, weapons and other explosives, people and organs, drugs and antiquities. Terrorism,
above all, but also all forms of organized crime call for tough responses."
"I suggest that our intelligence services work together, exchange information and resources and that our police forces undertake joint actions."
Excerpts from Greek Foreign Minister interview (Greece MFA site)
"Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia and Slovakia are the European countries taking part in the Conference in Rhodes. On the part of the Arab world, there is Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, UAE, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia."
"There is this historical, cultural and geographical area consisting of S.E. Europe and the E. Mediterranean. This is an area of shared interests. Yet, we have to restore its functionality. Its shared interests are interwoven with history and culture, concern new infrastructure, division of labour, security and stability."
Journalist: You are in particularly good terms with your Egyptian counterpart, Mr. Shoukry (...)
"Indeed, we sent the texts for the Conference to Egypt first, agreed on them and then forwarded them to everyone else. We do have a special relationship with Egypt, which has its own historical connection to the Arab world. I personally always bear in mind the fact that at the dawn of the 20th century Egypt was the one nurturing modern Arab culture. Egypt is where Arab-speaking motion pictures started from, it gave the world great Arab poets and singers, was home to big universities and reformist schools."
"we have established a series of tripartite partnerships. There are tripartite meetings with Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon and we are going to have one with Palestine."
"In cooperating with Egypt, we thought we had to capitalize on our experience from other such tripartite partnerships and envelop it institutionally. This is what we are doing in Rhodes: the Conference is bringing the various countries, which are involved in our tripartite arrangements and would like to participate in a joint forum for security and stability, closer together."
"Greece has indeed made a comeback to the Balkans. We aspire to connect the policy we endorsed to back in the 1990s, the one in favour of developing networks and the mainland of the Balkans, with the policy of the last decade, which strengthened the European orientation of countries in our region. We want to build a hinterland inside a European-oriented S.E. Europe. Now we are trying to connect this place with the Arab world."
Family photo from second day of the conference
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