Samaras: Greece a regional ‘bastion of security’

As speculation builds about a likely US strike against Syria in the coming days, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday met with President Karolos Papoulias for talks that reportedly focused on Greece’s possible role in a US-led military intervention in Syria with the premier seeking to stress the country’s potential function as an anchor of stability in a volatile region.

“One year ago, the region around Greece emitted a sense of stability while Greece was the source of instability,” Samaras said. “Now that situation has made a 180-degree turnaround. Greece is a bastion of stability and security in a region that is literally ablaze,” said the premier, who discussed the prospects for Greece as an anchor for regional stability during talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington earlier this month. “These issues were extensively analyzed with President Obama,” Samaras said, adding that “this sense of stability also needs to be enhanced within this country.”

Samaras’s briefing of the president followed reports that Washington has asked Athens to provide permission for US military ships and aircraft to pass through Greek territory and use the Souda Bay and Kalamata military bases for an intervention in Syria.

The Defense Ministry rebuffed those reports on Tuesday but the government sources that had briefed Kathimerini insisted that the prospect for Greek involvement in a US intervention has been discussed in view of Greece’s experience in providing support for NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011.

The goal of the Greek government, according to sources, is to contribute toward stability in the region and lay the groundwork for an upgraded geostrategic role in the region.

With this in mind, the government is reportedly seeking to boost its bilateral ties. Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with Egypt’s Ambassador to Greece Tarek Adel ahead of his scheduled visit on September 5. Also on Tuesday, Venizelos spoke to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who called him to discuss the situation in Syria, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.