27 November, 2007
The Middle East is a region that neighbours closely on Greece. Europe’s security and prosperity are linked with developments in its immediate neighbourhood: the Mediterranean and greater Middle East. Greece is making every possible effort both internationally and within the framework of the European Union to substantially promote the peace process. Apart from the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict, Greece and its EU partners are facing new challenges. These challenges do not merely relate to the region’s states and peoples. These challenges are closely interconnected and cannot be addressed in a piecemeal, isolated manner. These challenges have in the end become major issues of stability and security for the international community as a whole. Such problems include spreading instability, illegal migration, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Greece and its European partners are actively involved in, and are helping, efforts to solve the region’s problems. Apart from having a political role – within the framework of the Quartet – the European Union is also the region’s most important economic partner and donor.
Greece is of the view that in order to promote peace and stability in the region there must be an integrated strategy; a strategy that will address the Middle East as a whole. The core of such a strategy must be finding a solution for the Palestinian problem. Within this framework, Greece’s position is that in order for any solution to be viable, it must be the product of a mutually acceptable agreement. The ultimate goal consists in putting an end to the occupation which began in 1967 and creating an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, which will safely coexist with the state of Israel, according to the Quartet’s road map and relevant UN resolutions.
In the light of Greece’s age-old and multiple ties with the region’s peoples – irrefutably proven by the continuous presence of Greek communities and Christian Orthodox communities and churches – our country’s multilevel efforts are aimed at strengthening forces of moderation, dialogue and stability in the region. Greece is preserving the role of a reliable collocutor who is trying to contribute to overcoming differences. Within this framework, Greece’s constant, consistent and determined stance vis–a-vis developments in the region is widely acknowledged and was reflected in the Greek Chairmanship’s initiative within the UN Security Council for a discussion on the Middle East issue, in our participation in the International Conference for Lebanon (2007), and in our participation in the Annapolis International Middle East Peace Conference (2007), which is pivotal in the efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Greece has an important network of diplomatic missions in the region, including Embassies in 14 Arab League member-countries, Israel and Iran, and it is also actively involved in the economic, development and humanitarian field in cooperation with the region’s countries. At the same time, it is also taking part in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).