Politics: Foreign minister at EU council on events in N. Africa, Middle East

Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday confirmed that the Greek foreign and defence ministries have plans in place for the evacuation of some 250 Greek citizens and any Cypriot nationals currently in Libya. Droutsas was speaking in Brussels, where he had represented Greece at an EU General Affairs Council focusing on the events in north Africa and the Middle East.

Droutsas said that Athens was working with the foreign ministry in Cyprus, while the operation was being coordinated by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis and foreign ministry general secretary Ioannis Zepos.

Concerning the discussion at the General Affairs Council, Droutsas said he was satisfied with a decision that the EU should play an active role in the region and the agreement on a clearly defined political approach. He said Greece had supported proposals for a comprehensive 'Marshal-type' European plan for the region, to help with its economic growth.

During the meeting, the minister presented a proposal for a 'Democracy Centre' based in Greece to help promote democracy in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, stressing that this was not an attempt to "patronise" these countries but to help them become more democratic.

The meeting also focused on efforts to evacuate European citizens in Libya and discussed the probable increase in migration flows from the region.


Situation in Libya examined in late-night foreign ministry meeting


The situation in Libya was examined during a late-night meeting at the foreign ministry on Sunday, ministry secretary general Ambassador Yannis-Alexis Zepos said on state TV on Monday.

Zepos said that the tension in Tripoli and Bengazi were examined in particular.

He said that the foreign ministry, in collaboration with the defence ministry, are on stand-by to ensure the safety of the Greek citizens in the area.

Foreign ministry on standby to evacuate Greeks in Libya

Athens is carefully monitoring developments in Libya and ready to set in motion plans to evacuate any Greeks that live in that country and express a wish to leave, the Greek foreign ministry said in an announcement on Monday.

The ministry said that an evacuation operation will be carried out using C-130 transport planes provided by the national defence ministry and in consultation with Libyan authorities.

"For this purpose, the Greek embassy in Tripoli is in constant contact with both representatives of the Greek communities in Benghazi and Tripoli, and with Greek-owned companies active in Libya that employ staff in various parts of the country, some of which are far from the major urban centres," the announcement said.

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