Greece and the Philippines share values and a long maritime tradition, FM Gerapetritis says

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister George Gerapetritis and his visiting counterpart from the Philippines Enrique Manalo referred to the ties of friendship and common values linking Greece and the Philippines, in Athens on Thursday.

At a joint press conference, Gerapetritis said that it was the first visit of a Filipino foreign minister to Greece since the start of diplomatic relations 75 years ago.

Citing one of the values the two countries shared, he noted, “We support an international order based on principles and rules – the respect of International Law, particularly the undivided support of the International Law of the Sea, the peaceful resolution of differences, the prosperity of peoples.” He also spoke of the great room for improvement in bilateral relations, and in the decision to activate the political consultation process between the foreign affairs ministries of Greece and the Philippines.

Naval tradition also linked the two countries, the Greek minister said, noting that “50 Greek shipping companies are active in Manila, while 53,000 Filipino nationals and seamen offer their technical know-how on Greek-owned ships because of their high maritime skills.”

Gerapetritis added that Greece places great importance on maritime security and the safety of seagoing crews, and he thanked the Philippines for supporting Greece’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Greece itself supports EU-Philippines relations and their promotion, “while we hope for a positive outcome in negotiations for a free exchange agreement between the two countries.” In addition, Greece also looks forward to the deepening of EU-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) relations, which he had discussed with FM Manalo in Brussels in February. “Greece can also serve as an economic and trade gate of ASEAN countries in the European Union,” Gerapetritis said.

FM Manalo

Responding, FM Manalo said his discussion with Gerapetritis was very productive, and expressed the confidence that the meeting will serve as a starting point for several programs and projects to start immediately.

In particular, noting the sectors where bilateral collaboration could be built, he mentioned the protection of the environment, tourism, managing maritime pollution, climate change, and seafaring crews’ protection. The consultations they both decided on will provide a foundation for the promotion of partnerships in specific projects, the minister added.

FM Manalo also referred to the Filipino nationals working in Greece (around 18,000), and to those working on Greek-owned ships (nearly 50,000-53,000), adding that they contribute to the economies of both countries.

The joint statements were delivered after extended talks between delegations, and were followed by a working lunch.