Foreign Minister Maas arrived in Athens today for talks on further strengthening cooperation between Germany and Greece, which proved its worth during the economic and financial crisis.
Maas met with President Pavlopoulos and Foreign Minister Kotzias. He stated that the financial crisis had placed Greece and its people under a terrible burden, and that the Greek populace had responded to the situation with tremendous energy. He expressed his utmost respect for their efforts.
Close partnership between Germany and Greece
Cooperation between the two countries is close and covers many fields. The figures say it all: Germany is Greece’s number one trading partner, and more tourists in Greece come from Germany than from anywhere else.
Germany and Greece want to build on these close relations. For example, 2017 saw the signing of an MoU on establishing a German-Greek youth office by 2019 with the aim of bringing young people from the two countries together. Exchange on certain issues has also been improved over the past years. This week provides a number of examples: the third German-Greek dialogue on migration takes place on 20 September, and the second round of political consultations at State Secretary level is being held on 21 September.
Foreign Minister Maas praises close cooperation:
I am delighted that we have considerably enhanced our bilateral relations.
Looking back, I think it is fair to say that Germany and Greece have again moved a whole lot closer to each other.
Agreement reached in the dispute on the naming of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
In Athens, Maas underscored that the agreement ending the dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia presents a historic opportunity. In his opinion, it could contribute to reconciliation between the two countries and bring greater stability to the region. The agreement, under which the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will in future be called North Macedonia, will be voted on by the people of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in a referendum on 30 September. The agreement is also contentious in Greece. Maas commended the Greek side on its efforts to reach and uphold the agreement.
On 20 August, the third European Stability Mechanism (ESM) financial assistance programme for Greece, which had been in place since 2015, was successfully concluded. This is a key moment for the country as it emerges from the crisis.
Foreign Minister Maas underscored his confidence in Greece’s future:
We are optimistic that the Greek economy will continue to pick up and that the full benefit of this recovery will soon be felt by the people.