World Bulletin / News Desk
“We must do all, our outmost, to have peace in the region,” he told a news conference on the Greek island of Rhodes. “Still, peace requires stability.”
Greece is hosting the two-day conference of ministers and officials from Balkan and Arab countries.
Kotzias said the nations shared a “geographic continuum” where multiple problems and opportunities intersect. “The stability of each state in the region reflects on us all,” he said. “The security of every one of us is inseparable from the security of the rest.”
The minister added: “Peace means terminating war in Syria and Iraq. It means agreeing on a peace treaty that allows the local population to return home and build a prosperous future.”
Migration caused by conflict in Syria, Iraq and further afield is one of the main issues under consideration at the summit.
“The biggest refugee population is now in Turkey, which is carrying a huge burden,” Kotzias said, adding that the same applied to Lebanon and Jordan, and he called for a “joint research and action team” to coordinate an approach to the crisis.
“I suggest that those of us who are EU members examine the possibility to promote joint action and plans through the European Union,” he added.
Although Turkey is hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, with more than 2.5 million Syrians in the country, it is not taking part in the conference alongside Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Asked why Turkey was not present, a Greek diplomatic source said the meeting was an initiative bringing southeastern European countries and the Arab world together. Turkey would be invited next year.
Terrorism was another focus of the summit. Kotzias said extremism often involved children. “We are running the risk of an entire lost generation, swamped with lies, hatred.”
He concluded: “Problems in the region cannot be solved from the outside. Our own people and institutions should be the ones to encourage cooperation, dialogue, teamwork.”
Ahmed Abdul Al Jarman, U.A.E. assistant foreign minister, told reporters the meeting would mainly focus on the refugee crisis and how to find “proper” solutions.