Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas received New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in Athens on Wednesday, discussing the situation in the Mediterranean and issues of bilateral political and economic cooperation. The visit is taking place ahead of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary since the Battle of Crete in May 1941. After the meeting, the two ministers emphasised the significance of the Battle of Crete where Greeks and New Zealanders fought side by side in WWII, winning a victory that is widely regarded as decisive for the final outcome of the world war.
New Zealand Defence Minister Wayne Mapp will also be visiting the island of Crete in the next few days to attend celebrations for the anniversary.
In statements after the meeting, Droutsas again condemned the violent tactics of Syrian authorities to quell demonstrations in Syria, insisting that reforms were the only solution. Commenting on developments in the Arab world, he underlined that violence was not a solution and that only the search of a political solution was viable in the long term.
The Greek minister also briefed his counterpart on Athens' efforts to ensure the accession of the western Balkans to the European Union and to find a solution in the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
McCully noted that New Zealand was distant geographically but very close to Europe in terms of the European values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. He described his talks in Athens as very constructive.
Droutsas underlined that the economic reforms currently taking place in Greece will make it a very attractive prospect for foreign investors and he emphasised the country's potential as a gateway for investors to southeast Europe and as a tourist destination.
McCully also had talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Tuesday on bilateral economic relations, with emphasis on energy issues and especially renewable energy sources. Other topics discussed were developmental cooperation and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.