Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos was quoted in Athens on Monday as maintaining that "room for diplomatic initiatives" in Libya still exists, while he dismissed any noting that Greece may become a target for "retaliation".

Venizelos was quoted in an interview published in the Athens daily "Ta Nea".

Moreover, he echoed the government position of keeping Greece out of military operations against the Libyan government forces, while at the same time strictly respecting the country's commitments to the NATO alliance, should support be requested. In case of NATO involvement he cited Greece's commitment to provide infrastructure, but not warplanes.

"As we have repeatedly said, Greece does not participate in the present military operations that are taking place outside the framework of NATO. Of course, Greece receives requests by friendly and Allied countries to facilitate them through the use of Souda Bay, on Crete, or through Greek airfields, for example Araxos (southwestern Greece) where aircraft from Belgium happened to be at for training purposes. Greece provides such facilitations of a supportive nature because it is obligated to do so, according to International Law, following the Resolution 1973 by the UN Security Council," he clarified.

Asked about preventative measures undertaken by Athens amid the now expanded military situation in the wider region, he downplayed any possibility of a substantive threat:

"Obviously all the necessary precautions have been taken. Neither the air-defence systems, nor the other weapons systems or the aircraft that the Libyan regime possesses can harm any Greek territory and the island of Crete, more specifically. The distance is such, that full security is ensured; and our frigate that patrols the (sea) area is equipped with full self-defence systems," he said, while referring to a Hellenic Navy warship between Crete and North Africa.