Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Austrian Counterpart Emphasize Close Relations and Cooperation Potential

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: May 5, 2023; 14:49 ♦ (Vindobona)

Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visited his Austrian counterpart for working talks in Vienna. Overall, the meeting between Greece and Austria showcased their strong cooperation and commitment to international law and cooperation in various fields.

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Vienna. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg welcomed his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias for a working meeting in Vienna. The two foreign ministers discussed the excellent bilateral cooperation between their countries in the areas of migration, economy, and culture. They also touched upon geopolitical developments related to Russian aggression, the West Balkans, and the eastern Mediterranean.

"We have seen a very extensive exchange of visits between our two countries lately, which is proof of the extremely close and friendly relations between Austria and Greece," emphasized the foreign minister.

During the subsequent press conference, Foreign Minister Schallenberg highlighted the excellent development of trade relations between Austria and Greece. Tourism is particularly important, with Greece being one of the most popular destinations for Austrians year after year. Greece plans to also tap into the potential of its mountains for tourism in the future, and the Austrian foreign minister sees significant cooperation potential in this area through Austrian know-how. There are also opportunities for even closer cooperation in the economic sector, especially in Greece's efforts to become an energy hub and diversify energy exports. However, long-term stability in the eastern Mediterranean is needed for this.

Dendias also thanked Austria for its contribution to UNFICYP in Cyprus and its remarks on the Eastern Mediterranean. While things are much calmer now, Greece hopes to find a way out of its differences with Turkey based on international law after the Turkish elections.

"There is one precondition for an energy hub, and that is stability in the Mediterranean – and the application of international law in the eastern Mediterranean. I can promise that Austria fully supports Greece in this endeavor and welcomes the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey," said Foreign Minister Schallenberg on the situation in the eastern Mediterranean.

The two officials also discussed their close cooperation with the European Union and the United Nations. They share a common position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and emphasized the importance of respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty.

There are also shared interests in other geopolitical issues, with the West Balkans being a "common neighbor" and a priority for both countries. After significant progress was made last year, it is now important to work consistently towards a European future for the region. This is a geopolitical necessity since the countries in the region are particularly vulnerable to influence from Russia, China, or other actors. It is also important to avoid the negative consequences of the Russian aggression.

"We all know that 2023 will be a difficult year. But this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Thessaloniki Summit, where we, as the EU, all promised that every country in the region can become a full EU member state. It is high time to follow through on this promise," said the foreign minister concerning the West Balkans.

The foreign ministers also called for a joint European approach to illegal migration. The EU must not abandon the most affected states, warned Foreign Minister Schallenberg, while also praising Greece for its successes in combating illegal migration and the good bilateral cooperation in this area.

The two officials also touched upon the crisis in Sudan, with Dendias highlighting the evacuation operation of Greek citizens from Sudan and the expected movement of refugees to safer areas. He hopes to facilitate their stay next to the Sudanese border while working towards a truce and normalization.

Greece and Austria Make Symbolic Gesture for Return of Parthenon Fragments

During the meeting in Vienna, Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his deep satisfaction with Austria's announcement to return two significant fragments of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece. The announcement marks the third return of Parthenon fragments in recent years, following the Regional Government of Sicily's return in 2022 and Pope Francis' return in January 2023.

According to Dendias, these returns have created a positive momentum that could be used in discussions in London. He expressed gratitude for Austria's support for Greece's bid for the UN Security Council and on migration issues.

In addition to the return of the Parthenon fragments, Dendias also discussed his meeting with Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, regarding the direct threat posed by the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia.


Greek Foreign Ministry