Greece has 'balanced' position on Libya

Greece is not taking part in operations of a military nature in Libya, but is providing facilitations of a support nature in line with the country's obligations deriving from the relevant UN Security Council resolution, Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas explained on Monday during an interview on a private television station, stressing that the country is holding a "balanced" position.

The position was echoed by defence minister Evangelos Venizelos in a newspaper interview appearing on Monday.

"Greece is not taking part in operations of a military nature, like the ones being carried out right now, and these are certainly not being carried out within the NATO framework, but we have said that our obligations deriving from the UN Security Council resolution and our contractual obligations are to meet the requests of our friends and allies for provision of facilitations of a support nature," Droutsas said.

"There are UN Security Council resolutions. The aim of these resolutions is for there to be an end to the violence in Libya, for the violence aimed at the Libyan people themselves to be stopped," he added.

The foreign minister further stressed that "there is of course the potential for parallel consultations via diplomatic channels".

"We are leaving the channels of communication open, and we, as Greece have taken care to have our own channels, because we are a country in the immediate neighbourhood; we are a country with traditional relations of trust with the Arab world," he elaborated, adding that the Greek government "had a very clear line from the outset, in full coordination with the competent Ministries and Ministers, and this clear Greek position was expressed from the very outset both publicly and to our partners and allies."

Replying to questions, Droutsas said that everyone following the developments could not but be worried, adding that the international community had no other choice than to send a decisive message to Muammar Gaddafi so that violence would cease in the region.

He reiterated that the Greek government was examining the country's interests and acting with absolute respect to international law and the UN Security Council resolutions, stressing also that Greece is interested in "the following day" and is at the disposal of the international community to play an intermediary role if needed and it is asked to do so.

Droutsas further said that the international community needs to ponder how it will deal with similar issues in the future.

In an interview appearing in Monday's edition of TA NEA newspaper, defence minister Evangelos Venizelos also stressed that Greece was providing support facilitations to friend and ally countries, and was not taking part in the military operations "which are being conducted outside the framework of NATO".

Venizelos said that Greece has stated to NATO, in the context of its own planning, the availability of the military base in Souda and auxiliary military airports in Aktion and Andravida and a frigate that is currently anchored between Crete and Libya and an airborne radar, as well as a search and rescue helicopter, in accordance with the country's international responsibilities.

"Consequently, Greece is not participating, nor plans to participate, with Greek military aircraft" in the Libya operation, Venizelos stressed.

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