Foreign Minister Payne: Greek Australians play important role in advancing bilateral ties



By Panagiotis Dalatariof.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne paid her first official visit to Greece on Wednesday and met her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.

The Greek Herald was among only three media outlets exempted from attending and reporting on the first official visit of an Australian Foreign Minister to Greece in 10 years.

“We are proud of the Greeks who immigrated to Australia”:

At the two leaders’ joint press conference, Dendias welcomed Payne to Greece and focused on Greece-Australia relations and the ties that remain strong over time.

“Timeless relations, based on inseparable bonds of friendship, have been forged between our peoples,” said Dendias, while stressing that the presence of the Australian Ambassador to Greece, Arthur Spyrou, is a link between two countries.

“And we are, and I want to say this, particularly proud of the Greeks who immigrated to Australia and integrated into Australian society and contributed to the progress and prosperity of their new homeland.

“Our expatriates in Australia are the solid foundation, the bridge for the development and the strengthening of the bonds, not only of friendship, but of mutual understanding between the two countries.”

The Greek Foreign Minister also spoke about the common history of the two countries during World War II and the Battle of Crete. He pointed out that 80 years after the battle, Greece and Australia continue to uphold the same principles and values ​​of democracy and freedom.

“The Greeks, do not forget the sacrifices of Australia, of the Australians, on the battlefields of the two world wars,” said Dendias.

Strengthening of multilateral cooperation:

During the talks, Dendias also had the opportunity to brief Minister Payne on the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey’s destabilizing role in the region.

“I am very satisfied with the way Australia deals with the Law of the Sea and UNCLOS, as there is a broad consensus between us, as well as a consensus on the need to respect international law,” said Dendias. .

The Greek Foreign Minister then underlined that there was room for improvement in economic relations between the two countries, especially after “the significant Australian investment in Greece in [Greece’s] electricity distribution network.

Investment opportunities in tourism, transport, energy, green economy and manufacturing were also discussed.

“We agreed that our first meeting after ten years… scientists from both ministries on maritime law issues and the evolution of UNCLOS,” Dendias concluded.

Role of Greek Australians in advancing bilateral relations:

In response to Dendias, the Australian Foreign Minister thanked him for hosting her on his historic trip to Greece and highlighted the strong relationship between the two countries.

“I am very proud of our country’s diplomatic mission here. We have a really close relationship with Greece. These are two countries that share essential historical ties and a very close bond in terms of our peoples and common values, ”said Payne.

“Our relationship has been further strengthened by the very large and active Greek community in Australia. It is a very dynamic community with a very important contribution to the business sector, to investment, to culture. He is one of the biggest expats in the world.

Payne then highlighted the historic ties between Greece and Australia through the presence of Australian soldiers in Greece during World War II, before praising the “many events” organized by the Greek community in Australia this year to mark the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution.

Finally, she said Australia will continue to support de-escalation efforts in maritime areas on the basis of international law.

“We are staunch defenders of international law and of the institutions founded on the Charter of the United Nations. Greece and Australia will continue to cooperate at the level of international organizations on the basis of common principles and interests, ”she said, adding that Australia also supports strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Meeting with President Sakellaropoulou:

Minister Payne also met with the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, on Wednesday at the presidential residence.

Payne with Sakellaropoulou.

During the meeting, Sakellaropoulou spoke of the active presence and participation of Greek Australians in the political, economic and social life of the country. She stressed that they act as a stable communication bridge between Greece and Australia.

There was also a special mention of the historical ties between the two countries, as well as a series of issues, such as the fight against the pandemic, the situation in the Mediterranean and Indo-Pacific regions and the political, economic and cultural ties. between Greece and Australia. .

Given Payne’s dual ministerial capacity, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, they also discussed the role and position of women in both countries and initiatives to strengthen their rights.

Crown to the Unknown Soldier:

During her visit to Greece, Minister Payne also paid tribute to the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Athens by laying a wreath.

Deputy Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Hardalias, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Kathryn Campbell, Australian Ambassador to Greece Arthur Spyrou and a delegation of diplomats from the Greek Foreign Office.

During the ceremony, Payne recalled the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, where troops from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain “fought with great honor with Greek soldiers”.

She also stressed that “this bond is honored every year in Australia”.

Finally, she expressed concern about the situation in Afghanistan and noted that Greece and Australia wish to see a stable Afghanistan that will move away from extremism and support human rights, especially in terms of the protection of women and children. girls.

At the end of Payne’s visit to Greece, she will travel to Austria and Belgium to meet with diplomats in those countries.



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