♦ Corfu Process Launched
The informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers on the Greek island of Corfu concluded yesterday (28.6) with the launch of the “Corfu Process” to tackle European security challenges with concrete steps to restore confidence and prepare the ground for the ministers’ next meeting in Athens in December. “We have agreed on the need for an open, sustained, wide-ranging and inclusive dialogue on security and concurred that the OSCE is a natural forum to anchor this dialogue, because it is the only regional organization bringing together all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok on an equal basis,” said Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Dora Bakoyannis.
• Karamanlis’ Address
Addressing the informal ministerial meeting Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis noted that “[…] history teaches us that crises are often the springboards for improvement. The Chinese word for crisis is made of two characters: one means danger, the other means opportunity. We have to grasp the opportunity; we have to overcome the danger. As he stressed, Greece is convinced that a sincere, inclusive and open-ended dialogue is the first step in order to restore confidence and trust among the participating states and enhance the collective capacity to solve old problems and address new challenges. Karamanlis underlined the significance of the Corfu meetings, noting that it was a big success of Greece’s foreign policy.
♦ NATO-Russia Council
Twenty-nine foreign ministers of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) also gathered on Corfu on June 27 – the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the crisis in Georgia, last summer- to review the current state of relations and discuss the way forward for the Council. The ministers agreed to open the door for renewing military cooperation in the framework of the NRC. The meeting was chaired by the outgoing NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who said afterwards that “the NRC which has been in the neutral stand for almost a year, is now back in gear.” There are still “fundamental differences” between the Alliance and Russia on the Caucasus issues, […], though they do not constitute a reason for discontinuation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) talks on a broad range of security threats, he said. On his part, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called for a return to the founding principles of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and said that the Council convened after a long time, with positive results and a sincere exchange of views. On Russia’s decisions regarding the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Lavrov said that they were “irreversible,” but added that the meeting had been useful in averting new clashes.
• Bilateral Meetings
On the sidelines of the Corfu meetings, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. They spoke of a “new air” in Greece-US relations and signed two accords: a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a cooperation agreement on tackling serious crime, which pave the way to Greece’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Programme. Karamanlis also had a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the sidelines of the NATO-Russia meeting, and the two leaders discussed illegal migration, the establishment of an EU coastguard, Greek-Italian cooperation in the energy sector, with the focus on the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline. Furthermore, Bakoyannis met for the first time with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece – USA & Greece – Italy
♦ Corfu Process Launched