PM calls for hostilities to stop in Middle East

Greece clarified its position on the crisis in the Middle East yesterday as Premier Costas Karamanlis called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon, saying a distinction could not be made between «good and bad violence.» «During the last few days the use of violence in Lebanon and Israel has harmed the ultimate right of human life and dignity, tested the principles and values of the international community and pushed the boundaries of international law,» he said. Karamanlis said that the international community’s reaction to the situation had to be «clear and understandable.» He proposed that the kidnapped Israeli soldiers be returned, Hezbollah be disarmed, the Lebanese government’s authority be restored, the safety of civilians wanting to flee the country be guaranteed and the rule of international law be re-established. Karamanlis added that Greece was willing to be actively involved in an international effort to restore peace to the region. PASOK had recently criticized Karamanlis for not making a public statement on the crisis and party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis yesterday labeled the premier’s speech as «substantially delayed,» while saying Greece should be adopting «specific initiatives.» The prime minister said that the effort to evacuate Westerners, including Greeks, from Lebanon would continue «as long as necessary.» The Foreign Ministry said that the last Greeks who requested to be evacuated from Lebanon were taken from Beirut to Larnaca aboard the navy gunship Ikaria but that two ships remain on standby.