02 August, 2006
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over a political agreement reached by European Union foreign ministers on the situation in Lebanon and the perspectives of a solution to the current Middle East crisis.
"The European Union today has in front of it a double challenge to which it responded with success. On the one hand it maintained its political cohesion while on the other, it has sent a clear message in favor of the cessation of hostilities paving in parallel the next steps" to be taken, Bakoyannis told reporters at the end of an emergency meeting of the 25-nation EU.
The Greek foreign minister underlined that Tuesday's decision "satisfies Greek diplomacy to the extent that it is on the same wavelength with the five-point proposal that Athens has recently submitted."
"The 25 have taken a position in favor of the cessation of hostilities in the Middle East so as the UN Security Council be able afterwards to take the necessary decisions, starting with the deployment of an international military force in the region," Bakoyannis explained.
On this perspective, the foreign minister clarified that the international peacekeeping force would not be a NATO force, it would not be deployed in a war zone and that the cessation of hostilities from both sides was an indispensable precondition in order for it to have the UN Security Council's approval.
Greece, Bakoyannis said, wants the UN Security Council to convene as soon as possible and that in "general terms agreed with the proposal submitted recently by France."
"The fact that after today's (Tuesday's) meeting, the EU will present itself with a single voice in the Security Council constitutes an extremely positive development," the Greek foreign minister added.
Referring to the Middle East in general, Bakoyannis underlined that a necessary precondition for a comprehensive handling of existing problems was the solution of the Palestinian issue, indicating that the situation in the Gaza Strip was continuously deteriorating.
She also underlined that all involved parties, including Syria and Iran, should participate in efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis, and expressed satisfaction on the fact that EU High Commissioner on Foreign Policy Javier Solana was ordered on Tuesday by the Council to begin contacts with all interested parties in the region including Damascus and Tehran.
Referring to a possible dispatch of an international military force to Lebanon, the foreign minister said that it should be the broadest possible and not only be "Christian" but also include as many Muslim and Arab countries as possible.
Source: Athens News Agency