FM Dendias meets with visiting Belgian counterpart Wilmes: Time to reactivate bilateral relations

Greece is reactivating its relations with Belgium, after “allowing bilateral relations to languish for nearly 15 years,” Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said during a meeting with his Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes in Athens on Thursday.

“There are several significant prospects in economy, energy, Renewable Energy Sources, new technologies and the environment, and we must seize the opportunity to encourage business contacts between our two countries,” the Greek minister said.

Dendias spoke of relations with Turkey and the West Balkans. On Greek-Turkish relations, he said that “the ice broke but the great and significant differences with Turkey remain.” On the West Balkans and their EU accession process, he said that “we cannot allow a black hole in the center of Europe.” 

He also noted that the EU must promote a joint stance on migration and the borders, and pointed out that Turkey often encouraged boats with migrants from Turkey to Greek coastland.

FM Wilmes 

Responding, Wilmes said that Turkey is not just another neighbor in the region, it is a key player in the East Mediterranean, and its stance could destabilize more countries than Greece. “On issues related to the East Mediterranean, we absolutely agree and support Greece,” she said. She also noted however that the agenda with Turkey must remain positive and the EU should identify sectors it can collaborate with.

Commenting on her visit to the Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesvos island, the Belgian FM noted that the refugee issue is a European issue. She noted that just as it is important to see the reality of refugees living in camps for a long time, it is also necessary to understand the reality Greeks experience.

“We must not underestimate the reality of so many mass arrivals in their reality because it can destabilize and entire community,” she added.

Referring to the Israel-Palestine peace process, she said she wanted to discuss this with Dendias, and stressed that Europe should “strongly support the peace process, not just in theory.” The EU she said “must have contacts with both involved parties and we must go back to the roots of the war.”

ViaDiplomacy Newsroom