An exclusive interview with Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias

We present you with an exclusive interview with Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias the editor-in-chief in the Greek site http://pentapostagma.gr, that has been held by UAEVOICE, through our questions he was able to express his opinion on the significance of the ongoing cooperation between the UAE and Greece in a number of areas.

Brief about Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias:

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias is working as a journalist, and he is the editor-in-chief in the Greek site http://pentapostagma.gr. In addition, he is a Defense analyst and Geopolitics analyst.

The interview with Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias goes as the following:

The whole world has recently followed the development of relations between the UAE and Greece through the visit of the Emirati Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, and before him the visit of the Military Chief of the UAE Armed Forces, and their meeting with high-ranking Greek officials.

What do the two countries aspire to from these visits?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: First of all, the relationship between Greece and the United Arab Emirates has taken on a strategic nature, improving the multi-level bilateral ties between the two countries. Our countries agree, view the opportunities in the same way, and respond to the challenges that arise in our broader region in the same way. We have make great steps in bilateral economic cooperation and in adopting renewable energy sources, while noting that recent cooperation in defense will add new depth to bilateral ties.

Mr. Andreas added that the main goals of the two countries are:

  1. UAE and Greek views regarding finding a solution to the Libyan crisis which meets the aspirations of Libyans with regard to development and peace, and puts an end to terrorism there.
  2. Also, the two countries reject policies or actions that threaten stability in the Mediterranean, which is a vital region of great importance for international peace and security. UAE and Greece emphasized the need to respect international law regarding maritime borders and oil and gas resources in the region.

Mr. Andreas referred that the recent visit of the head of the UAE armed forces to Greece, as well as the joint training of our pilots and the presence of UAE planes in Souda, is indicative of the foregoing doals.

Mr. Andreas affirmed that the UAE and Greece also had an extensive exchange of views on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the recent developments with regard to Turkey’s actions. Greece remains committed to dialogue in good faith, based on international law, without blackmail or threats.

About the visit of HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Mr. Andreas mentioned that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was received in Athens by his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias. In the economic sector, there is already a strong institutional foundation that we hope will lead to a new era. The Memoranda of Understanding and Joint Action Programme we concluded in the context of the two Strategic Fora we held this year will act as multipliers. We are capitalizing on the opportunities for cooperation that exist in the sectors of investments, trade, tourism and culture, health, digital services and agriculture. The UAE is a very important country for Greece. Not just in the Gulf region, but in the wider region, and not just in the context of the Arab world, but in the context of the global community. This is why its views and the model of stability that it represents are of enormous importance.

Also, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, have reviewed the prospects of enhancing bilateral relations across all fronts. The two sides also deliberated the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, in addition to a number of issues of concern, notably the situation in Libya and Iran.

Mr. Andreas ascertained that the global fight against COVID-19 and ways of strengthening international efforts to secure a vaccine to the diseases featured high during the meeting. The recently signed UAE-Israeli Peace Accord and its role in establishing security and stability in the region were reviewed as well during the meeting.

The two countries have agreed to develop aspects of joint cooperation in a number of fields … especially the health sector … What are the aspects of development agreed upon between the two countries, especially since we are still going through the Corona pandemic? Are there joint efforts between the two countries to confront the pandemic?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: Firts of all, at the beginning of Coronavirus crisis, eleven tons of medical supplies donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Greece arrived on Thursday at the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, via a special Etihad Airways flight.

The supplies included among other things: special coveralls for medical protection, medical gloves and sanitizers. Immediately become available to hospitals around the country and help the fight against Coronavirus. The assistance comes at the initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi & Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor of the UAE. It confirms the close relationship of the UAE with Greece; a relationship that began as economic cooperation, but thanks to the trust developed, it evolved into a strong bond. So, I think that there is a good corporation between two countries.

Food security is one of the priorities of the UAE at this time as well .. Is it expected that there will be joint efforts between the two countries in this field?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: On July 25, 2020, the second edition of the Forum for Strategic Cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and Greece took place practically to discuss ways to strengthen strategic relations between the two countries. The virtual forum organized close consultations on Ministerial and Subcommittee tracks in the areas of political cooperation and international humanitarian development, trade and investment, culture, energy, digital cooperation and agriculture, in which the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food, Konstantinos Skrekas, the Secretary General of Agricultural Policy, Konstantinos Baginetas, as well as officials of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food participated on the Greek side, while the Deputy Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Sultan Al Hebsi, officials of the Ministry of State, as well as executives from the companies Al Dahra and Elite Argo represented the U.A.E. side. So, I think that Greece will help the UAE in this sector.

On the level of economic relations .. What is proposed by the two countries to develop economic relations between them?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: In 2019, more than 24,000 Greek tourists visited the United Arab Emirates. The growing number of tourists travelling between our two countries is supported by a dynamic aviation sector, which included 14 weekly flights by our national airlines before the spread of COVID-19.

Four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and one Joint Action Program were signed between Greece and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) during the 2nd Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Forum of the two countries, held on the 23rd of July 2020. The Forum was jointly chaired by Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, U.A.E.’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s Minister of Development and Investments.

More specifically, 4 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and 1 Joint Action Program were signed in the following areas:

  1. Small and Medium Enterprises, signed by the Minister of Development and Investments, Adonis Georgiadis, and the Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Dr. Ahmed Belhoul, aiming at promoting joint actions in the field of SMEs, with an emphasis on innovative entrepreneurship and start-ups, and at encouraging increased collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  2. International Development Cooperation, signed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy, Kostas Fragkogiannis, and the Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem Al Hashimi, reflecting the will of the two countries to take joint humanitarian action in high-priority developing countries for the promotion of their common goals.
  3. Cultural and Creative Industries, signed by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni and the Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi, constitutes the first MoU signed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports in this area and foresees for the exchange of know-how and best practices between the two countries.
  4. Digital Cooperation, signed by the Minister of Digital Governance, Kyriakos Pierrakakis and the Minister of State for Government Development and the Future, Ohud AlRoumi, with the aim of strengthening the dialogue between the two countries regarding the digital services of the public sector, artificial intelligence, ‘smart’ services and the strategic design of digital policy with the help of useful tools (government accelerators).
  5. Tourism for the period 2020-2022, signed by the Minister of Tourism, Haris Theocharis and the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, with the aim of exchanging know-how in the fields of tourism marketing and promotion, the development of Special Interest Tourism, as well as the promotion of tourism investments.

The visit of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed included talking about the challenges facing the processes of regional stability and peace in the eastern Mediterranean region. Are there joint plans between the two countries to further promote regional peace?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: Greece and the United Arab Emirates have begun joint air force training exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, in the latest build-up of military forces in the region where Greece and Turkey are at odds over seabed mineral rights. So I think with this way, both countries UAE and Greece have joint plans to further promote regional peace.

In your opinion, why are some countries anxious about the exchange visits between the Emirates and Greece, especially Turkey … Is this possible to threaten their interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and what are their interests that may be harmed by the cooperation between the UAE and Greece?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: Turkey and the UAE have been locked in an increasingly bitter cold war in recent years. Turkey’s incumbent ruling party, alongside its close ally Qatar, is a strong supporter and patron of Muslim Brotherhood groups across the region. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, strongly oppose the Brotherhood. Turkey and the UAE have also been on the polar opposite sides of regional proxy conflicts, most notably the one in Libya.

The UAE’s decision to send some fighter jets to demonstrate its support of Greece in its dispute with Turkey is another example of Abu Dhabi’s consistent opposition to Ankara’s regional policies in this multi-front cold war.

The UAE allies Egypt and France also strongly oppose Turkey’s policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and support Greece. So, I think that turkey has a problem.

Can the Emirati-Greek cooperation in a number of areas establish an alliance between the two countries in the future, or do the visits come within a friendly framework and nothing more?

Mr. Andreas Mountzouroulias said: The close ties between UAE and Greece are based on a number of shared strategic and economic interests. Greece-UAE drills send an unmistakable signal to anyone who might think of challenging Greece that the nation is far from alone in defending its borders.

The UAE is a major and natural strategic partner for Greece. Athens has been working to strengthen its maritime capabilities. Effectively Turkey is becoming more isolated and it continues on an aggressive campaign of regional hegemony that has only backfired and weakened its position. So, I believe that the alliances between the two countries in the future will be continued.

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