I am especially happy to be visiting theCzech Republic. I am certain that this visit confirms the excellent relations between our countries and our peoples. I wish to thank you for the warm hospitality and for your kind words for my country and for the Greek people.
Greece and the Czech Republic have made a substantial contribution to European culture. Important Czech writers and composers had a great influence on the cultural and artistic trends during the ages and their work has marked the European culture. Prague is home to one of Europe’s oldest Universities. Today, its Greek students are the living channel of communication between our peoples. Members of the Greek community of the Czech Republic have held important positions in the country’s economic and social life without losing their Greek roots.
The Acropolis of Athens and the historic centre of Prague are UNESCO world cultural monuments. The Parthenon marbles can now be seen at the new Acropolis Museum. Some though are missing. The gaps on the Parthenon metopes are open wounds on the body of this unique monument. The British Museum should reconsider their selfish attitude which is the result of a point of view that is obsolete and has been condemned by the international public opinion.
In the field of economic cooperation, our trade volume is increasing steadily. There is also further room of growth for our tourist cooperation. The current important dynamic is expected to increase in the coming years. This is the objective of the Business Forum which is organized in the framework of this visit.
The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change will start on December 7. It is clear what is at stake here. Climate change is the most important environmental, social and economic challenge for the planet. I wish to be clear. Greece is not seeking just a political agreement in Copenhagen. We are not looking for half measures; we don’t want to create impressions. We are looking for the substance both in our goals and in the financing. What we want is a comprehensive agreement which will also be legally binding. It is everyone’s duty- but most of all it is the duty of the European Union, to effectively respond to this very serious global problem of climate change. We all need to go to the conference with the necessary political will in order to make our vision come true, even with this delay and in spite of the mistakes and the omissions of the past.
I also want to stress the importance of saving energy. Our countries must use their comparative advantages: nature, climate, new practices and know-how. We must proceed with a vision and with practical measures, to adopt energy policies with low or zero carbon dioxide emissions. A low emission economy will contribute to the development of new, clean technologies which will promote sustainable development and employment.
At the December European Council, it is not only the European course of Turkey which is at stake. It is also the self-respect of the European Union. The conditions were clearly set many years ago. Generous deadlines upon deadlines. I want to be clear. It is not possible for Turkey to claim an advantageous accession which was never granted to any other country. We need tangible and effective action from Ankara on the implementation of the Additional Protocol and the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. The European Council decisions must be clear if, as seems to be the case, this response is not forthcoming.
Greece will continue to work consistently for peace in the wider Balkan region. We are seeking to solve the problems on the basis of the principles of International Law, of cooperation and international legality. Our priority is the accession of the Western Balkan states to the European Union in order to achieve an integrated common European area and to consolidate stability in our neighbouring area.
Once again, I would like to thank you for the warm hospitality. I am certain that my visit will contribute to the strengthening of our cooperation and will consolidate the bonds of friendship between our countries and our peoples. With these thoughts, I would like to raise my glass to wish you and your wife health and happiness and growth and prosperity to the friendly people of the Czech Republic.-