If all states respected International Law, that is, the Charter of the United Nations, there would simply be no wars. Therefore, it is the necessary, sufficient, capable and necessary condition for peace, said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who referred to the pursuit of a peaceful settlement of disputes between states.
During his speech at the 17th Economist Conference held in Cyprus, in the panel “Can the potential of peace and co-operation prevail in the Eastern Mediterranean? – Adherence to international law: Is it a sufficient condition for peace in the region? “, Mr. Dendias pointed out:
“First of all, it is my pleasure to be here in Nicosia and it is a great honor for me to succeed my friend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulidis. We have a very close cooperation with Nikos Christodoulidis in all areas, especially within the Council EU Foreign Ministers.
I would also like to thank the Economist for inviting me here in Nicosia today and for the opportunity to address a very distinguished audience.
The discussion is based on a very interesting, and I would like to say a fascinating question. Especially for someone like me, for whom the study and application of law is the environment of my life and my professional direction.
A key question I was asked: is respect for international law a sufficient condition for peace in the region?
A clear question needs a very clear answer. And in my opinion, respect for international law is, I repeat, sufficient, independent, a condition for peace. I could give a multifactorial answer. But a multifactorial view results, in my judgment, in not answering.
So I will repeat it in English, as it is worded, so that we know what we are talking about here in the Eastern Mediterranean. “International Law is a sufficient condition for peace in our region”.
And I address it to the Chamber, and you will allow me to address it beyond the Chamber. It is also simple as logical reasoning. If all states respected International Law, that is, the Charter of the United Nations, there would simply be no wars. And so, it is the necessary, sufficient, capable and necessary condition for peace.
And of course, it is the necessary condition for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Because there are, and inevitably are, differences between neighboring states.
The question is how disputes are resolved. Are they resolved with arms, as was the case in previous centuries, or peacefully, as we now wish?
And if we want to resolve them peacefully, on the basis of what rules? If we do not all apply the same rules, the problem also becomes unsolvable. Because, we do not have what happens in the domestic legal order, where the law is imposed by the state, which according to Weber has the privilege of legal violence.
There is no Leviathan in the international community, as Thomas Hobbes dreamed, to enforce the law. It is up to the states themselves, on the one hand, to shape it and, above all, to implement it.
And let me give you a simple example of our daily lives. If we try to solve a geometry exercise together, one side applies Euclidean geometry, where there are parallel lines, and the other side applies parabolic geometry, where there are no parallel lines. Is there ever a chance that there will be a common solution to this exercise?
So we have to have common rules. And the common rules, ladies and gentlemen, are International Law. There is nothing else available to 21st century humanity.
Interestingly, the foundations of international law were laid in parallel with the creation of the nation-state as a key player in international relations in the 17th century. And also that the main works of the so-called “father of international law”, Grotius, concerned on the one hand the law of war and peace, and on the other hand, and this is very important for our region, the law for the freedom of of the seas. That is, the distant ancestors of the Charter of the United Nations and UNCLOS, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Because we, the Hellenic Republic, embrace International Law and International Maritime Law as a fundamental principle and value of our foreign policy. And not just in theory but in practice. And our main goal is to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean, but also in the world.
To achieve this goal, the Mitsotakis government, in which I have the honor to participate, has taken a number of initiatives. Nikos had the kindness to mention many of them before.
In order to resolve our disputes peacefully on the basis of the rules of International Law. We have agreed with Italy our Exclusive Economic Zone. We have agreed with Egypt our Exclusive Economic Zone. We have agreed with Albania to refer our dispute to The Hague. We have signed Defense Agreements with the United Arab Emirates, with France. However, these Agreements have an explicit reference to the Charter of the United Nations.
Because these Agreements, ladies and gentlemen, are not directed against anyone. They pose neither a direct nor an indirect threat to third countries.
We, Greece, together with the Republic of Cyprus, promote cooperation in the region. And we promote it, again Nikos covered me in detail in this, through both tripartite and multilateral schemes. The next one will be in Athens the day after tomorrow with Egypt, our friend Sameh Shoukry, and the French minister, Mr. Le Drian.
These shapes are not shapes that have a narrow agenda, they have a very broad agenda. They are called upon to face common challenges: pandemic, climate change. They aim to strengthen cooperation, interconnection in areas such as energy and transport, areas necessary for economic growth. And always with a fixed denominator and factor: respect for the principles of International Law.
And I answer to Turkey: these schemes are not intended to encircle it, they are not intended to exclude it. They are shapes open to everyone. With one and inviolable condition and condition: respect for International Law.
Greece and the Republic of Cyprus, through their active participation in the European Union – a Community of Principles and Values, the most, in my opinion, important undertaking of cooperation between states in the history of mankind – in this way, with this participation we consider that we are laying another foundation for the consolidation of peace and stability on the planet.
And our main priority, a basic Greek priority, is the enlargement of the European Union in order to include, first of all, the Western Balkans, our neighborhood, but, perhaps sometime in the future, if the Turkish society chooses it, Turkey as well.
But again, subject to the inviolability of acceptance of the accession criteria, including the European acquis, which, I note, includes UNCLOS. UNCLOS, ladies and gentlemen, is not just a Treaty signed by all the Member States of the European Union. It may not have been noticed that UNCLOS was signed by the European Union itself. So that is the absolute definition of the European acquis. And, of course, the countries that want to be with us in our common future must co-sign the principles of good neighborliness.
Unfortunately, respect for international law in our region is another dream, I am afraid, perhaps a distant one. And I am obliged as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, being here today, in Nicosia, to remind and remember that yesterday marked 38 years since the proclamation of the pseudo-state, a proclamation that was immediately condemned by Decision 541/83 by all the permanent members of the Council. United Nations Security Council in the midst of the Cold War. Worse still, Turkish behavior has deteriorated dramatically since then. The violations of basic principles of International Law, the threat of use of force, I recall the casus belli against Greece, as well as the violations of provisions of the Law of the Sea continue unabated. Adding to the long list are other issues: occupation of neighboring countries, persistent violations of sovereignty and sovereign rights, the new hybrid threat of immigration tooling, which has found imitators in the face of, for example, the last days of the Belarusian dictator, blackmail the European Union by instrumentalizing human suffering, instrumentalizing the hope of our fellow human beings for a better life.
But, ladies and gentlemen, I did not come here to talk about Turkey. I came to talk about Greece and Hellenism “.
Concluding, the Greek Foreign Minister stressed: “Greece, like Cyprus, we are not big countries. Greece alone or together with Cyprus, we are not the regulators of international developments. But through respect for and promotion of International Law and We want to contribute to the creation of a better society of states, a better society of people, to try to ensure that the lives of the peoples of the region are not “lonely, poor, unpleasant, short” as Hobbes put it. the “Balkanization” of the region.
To contribute with our forces to the creation of a zone of stability, security, peace, prosperity for all the peoples, for all the people of our region “.
Source From: Capital