NEWS

FM: Greece ‘reliable mediator’

Greece is a reliable mediator and is willing to use its forthcoming role as president of the United Nations Security Council to push for a lasting peace in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statements to Sunday’s Kathimerini. «We are among the most reliable and well-received mediators in the region,» Bakoyannis said. She noted that this was a «valuable tool for Greek diplomacy,» particularly ahead of Greece’s scheduled assumption of the UN Security Council presidency on Friday. «We should be willing to exploit this asset without forgetting that stability and peace in the broader region cannot be achieved without a settlement of the Palestinian problem,» Bakoyannis remarked. The minister highlighted as a priority the immediate implementation of a Security Council resolution dictating an end to all hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. «Diplomacy must be the only means used during this critical point at which the truce remains exceptionally fragile,» she said. As for Greece’s role, Bakoyannis said that her recent tour of the Middle East had revealed certain «problems and opportunities for stability and peace… which Greece can contribute toward curbing and boosting respectively.» Diplomatic sources in Athens stressed that Greece had no illusions about undertaking major initiatives beyond its capabilities as a relatively small country. But they stressed that Greece would not simply stand by passively and observe crucial developments on its doorstep. «We have to start clearing the road ahead for peace,» a Greek diplomatic source told Kathimerini. «Greece is not posturing, it simply wants – and is able – to play a role.» Bakoyannis visited Lebanon, Israel and Jordan last week where she had talks with government officials from all three countries as well as with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who had been visiting Amman. Following talks with Abbas, Bakoyannis stressed that the Palestinian problem was «the catalyst» of other problems in the region and needed to be solved for there to be a lasting peace in the Middle East.