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Athens urges diplomatic effort over Crimea

Armed Russian forces arresting Ukrainian army officers during an operation in Simferopol on Tuesday.

Greece’s prime minister and foreign minister walked a careful line on Tuesday between backing the European Union’s position on Crimea but also insisting that attempts should continue at reaching a diplomatic compromise with Russia over the Ukrainian region.

“Respect for international law and the need for stability and peace form the basis of European policy,” said Venizelos from Brussels, where he was attending the EU’s General Affairs Council. “Our mission to protect this stability is a historic one. The recent decision taken by the European Council regarding certain sanctions [against Russia] sends a strong message about our decisiveness.”

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy was due to travel to Moscow on Wednesday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin but the trip appears to have been canceled due to Moscow making it public. Earlier, Venizelos insisted that a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Crimea was still possible.

“We are keeping various channels of political and diplomatic dialogue open because we need this dialogue in order to achieve a final and acceptable solution,” he said.

In Athens, Samaras made it clear that Greece opposed any annexation of Crimea by Russia but at the same time he said he was against “anything that would lead to the creation of a Cold War climate.”

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday March 18, 2014 (21:20)  
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