DM briefs Parliament on country's participation in Libya operations

“Greece did what was dictated by its national interest, and it did not abstain from Libya operations because it would have been damaging,” Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos told MPs on Tuesday.

Speaking before a Parliamentary standing committee convened to focus on developments in the southern Mediterranean and particularly in Libya, Venizelos underlined that Greece’s participation in a supportive capacity will continue unchanged for as long as it is needed.

Responding to relevant questions by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MPs, Venizelos stressed that “we have no intention, nor have we offered to participate in land operations”. He added that the Hellenic Navy frigate sailing off Libya faces no risks, and he pointed out that it “will not enter Libya’s territorial waters without the permission of Libyan authorities”.

Referring to the monthly cost of Athens' participation, Venizelos stated that it is estimated at roughly 6-6.5 million euros, underlining that the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) decision on the Greek participation was based on Article 28 of the Constitution.

He also flatly rejected an allegation according to which the frigate “Limnos” was recently attacked by a missile while sailing near Libya.

On their part, ND MPs expressed support over the decision, while raising the question of whether the benefits stemming from the country’s participation have been well-calculated.

Absolute opposition to the operations was expressed by the opposition Communist Party (KKE) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).

In an unrelated matter, Venizelos referred to the Italian research vessel Explora, which was recently harassed by a Turkish Navy vessel on grounds that it was allegedly in Turkish territorial waters, despite the fact that it was in a Greek zone near the extreme southeastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo.

He stated that as it was subsequently revealed that the Italian owners of the vessel had requested parallel permission from Turkish authorities, in violation of the international law, and as a result, Athens revoked the permission it had granted the company to conduct research in other Greek sea regions, such as off the Peloponnese.

The Italian-flagged vessel had undertaken to draw up a route to be followed by an underwater fibre optics cable linking Italy with Israel.

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