Greece will have supporting role in Libya, foreign ministry says

Greece will not participate in military operations in Libya but respond to the requests of allied countries so that UN Security Council resolution 1973 can be enforced, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Wednesday.

During the regular reporters' briefing, he said that the Security Council's resolution had "strong legitimacy," emphasising that hostilities in Libya had to end and non-combatants protected. He also repeated the prime minister's position, that the international community must continue to strive for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"Military operations cannot provide the solution. The order of the Security Council was to protect civilians. Afterward we will need to seek a political solution," he said.

Greece had the capability to contribute to such an effort, he added, while he also stressed that Greece supported the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Libya.

Delavekouras said that talks on the crisis were underway within NATO, and plans adopted for dealing with the humanitarian situation, enforcing an arms embargo and a no-fly zone above Libya.

The European Union had decided to become actively involved in the humanitarian aspects of the operation but had not yet made its plan of action specific, the spokesman said. Greece would coordinate its action with that of the EU in order to open up supply routes for humanitarian aid, evacuate citizens and help those trapped at the borders to leave.

Delavekouras reported that aircraft of allied countries were currently at Greek airports in the framework of UNSCR 1973, while the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle had asked and would receive permission for its aircraft to use Greece's Flight Information Region in the framework of allied operations.

Asked about the reprisals threatened by Muammar Gaddafi against Mediterranean countries that assisted the attacks on his forces, Delavekouras cited assurances from the foreign and defence ministries that all necessary precautions have been taken.

"Based on the information we have, there is no possibility that Greek territory can be harmed by the forces of the Gaddafi regime," he said.

The spokesman especially emphasised Greece's relations with the Arab world once the conflict was over, saying that there was a relationship of trust and mutual respect with Arab countries in which Greece had acted as a bridge and that it will continue to have this role in the future.

"We have to build a new partnership relation with the Arab world, which at present is experiencing radical developments, with social movements that reveal that there is a new face to the region," he said.

The spokesman said that Europe should support this process of democratisation, while Greece and the EU had to begin processing a new relationship with the Arab world and make the "necessary political investments".

He underlined that Greece could play a leading role in this process.

Questioned about the prospect of a large spike in migration from north Africa, Delavekouras admitted that this was a concern, noting that the issue had been raised by Greece when protests started in Egypt and that it had been discussed at the level of heads of state and government.

"We have made sure that it is high on the EU agenda," he said, noting that EU operations were already underway in Greece and Italy, while the European Commission was working on a strategy to present in June.

Delavekouras stressed the need for solidarity on this issue between EU member-states, saying that countries like Greece and Italy that were on the front lines of the migration wave could not be asked to carry the burden alone.

Defence minister to ND on Libya

National Defence Minister Evngelos Venizelos will brief, Thursday, main opposition New Democracy's (ND) vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos on Greece's position regarding the Libya crisis, following the 1973 UN Security Council resolution, it was announced on Wednesday.

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