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Greece firmly backs independent Palestinian state, PM reaffirms after meeting with Abbas

Δημοσίευση 9 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 11:00 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
Greece firmly backs independent Palestinian state, PM reaffirms after meeting with Abbas
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Greece steadfastly backs the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with Israel, within internationally-recognised borders based on the pre-1967 line, prime minister George Papandreou reaffirmed on Wednesday after talks with visiting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, adding that Greece remains dedicated to a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Greece steadfastly backs the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with Israel, within internationally-recognised borders based on the pre-1967 line, prime minister George Papandreou reaffirmed on Wednesday after talks with visiting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, adding that Greece remains dedicated to a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Papandreou, in statements to the press after the meeting, said that Abbas was actively showing the way to peace and security in the region, "which is, precisely, the creation of a Palestinian state".

Greece, he added, will continue to stand by and aid the efforts of Palestine and the Palestinian people for a just and viable solution that will facilitate a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East issue.

The Arab peace initiative continues to be an important tool for achieving that goal, Papandreou said, stressing that Greece, which maintains friendly relations with all the countries of the region, is prepared to contribute to the peace process both now and in the future.

Papandreou also announced that Greece will undertake an initiative for the creation of a regional firefighting force in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, in agreement with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas, adding that the relevant authorities of Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Russia, in addition to Palestine and Israel, will be invited to join the initiative.

Abbas, in turn, fully endorsed the proposed initiative.

The Greek premier also underlined the special political symbolism of the proposal with respect to "the prospects we have in this region, when we work together to confront crises and underline the region's dynamic".

Papandreou cited as an example of cooperation between the regions, the recent wildfires in Israel, where Greek firefighting forces were dispatched to help battle the blaze, and where the Palestinian Authority also dispatched six vehicles, a move that he described as "substantive and particularly symbolic" on Palestine's part towards Israel.

Speaking in turn, Abbas expressed the Palestinian Authority's gratitude to Greece, which he said "plays an important role in the EU", adding that "we are certain that you are making every effort for the resolution of the Palestinian issue in a just way".

On the crisis in Greece, Abbas expressed conviction that it will be overcome with the wisdom of the prime minister and the government.

Abbas further said that the Palestinian Authority is moving in two directions: the first is the political process and the second is national reconciliation "because any solution that arises in the future cannot be applied if there is no agreement and conciliation".

"We are committed to this political roadmap," Abbas said, adding that the Israeli military forces must be withdrawn.

Asked whether prospects exist for "a light at the end of the long tunnel of negotiations", Abbas said it is without doubt that a hard crisis exists, adding that "we and Greece are in permanent contact".

"Greece plays a significant role in the discussions for continuation of the effort in general," he said while, on the talks between Israel and the US, he said that the crisis they have entered needs to be overcome.

"We must be led to a solution for the good of the region," Abbas said, adding that Papandreou will play a very fundamental role in advancing the peace process in the Middle East.

Papandreou warned that if the peace process fails, there will once again be huge and justified disappointment -- not only among the states but also the peoples -- in so many countries, which in turn would lead to extreme perceptions and reactions.

The only path is that of the success of the talks, the Greek premier stressed, adding that the EU has an important role to play, as does Greece, «which is always prepared to do so".

Papandreou further said that foreign minister will convey Greece's thoughts on the peace process at the upcoming EU foreign ministers' council on general affairs.

"We can play a role in the EU and we are doing so, but we are also playing a role in the wider region as neighbors, and through other channels, such as the Socialist International (SI)," said Papandreou, who is also president of the SI.

Papandreou also expressed worry over the current impasse in the direct negotiations, but voiced optimism that, with the assistance of the international community -- and of course the EU will also play a role, there will be a satisfactory solution for all sides.

He also expressed satisfaction with the state institutions and infrastructures building program aimed at the creation of a Palestinian state, which he said has made impressive progressive and to which Greece is also contributing.

"Now that there is a stronger Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, one sees a different Palestine that is more certain, more secure and developing, which actively shows that, if a recognised state existed and the border issue had been resolved, on the basis of the 1967 borders, that would be a guarantee of security as well not only for the Palestinian people but also for Israel and wider," Papandreou continued.

The Greek premier also expressed hope that a solution will soon be found to the issue of endo-Palestinian reconciliation, and congratulated Abbas for his efforts in that direction.

Papoulias hosts dinner for Palestinian president

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential mansion on Wednesday, for a dinner held in Abbas' honour.

During talks prior to the dinner, they discussed the close cooperation with neighbouring countries and Israel during the devastating fires that swept through Israeli territory, agreeing that "disaster diplomacy" was a good opportunity to develop peaceful cooperation.

"From dealing with natural disasters we can move on to dealing with the calamities of extremism, with the final goal of achieving peace," Abbas said.

After the fires, the next opportunity will be given with water, which was a shared and inadequate resource in the Middle East, he added.

Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority intends to create desalination plants in collaboration with Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

"After the fires we will also quench the thirst for water," he emphasised, adding that Israel possessed very advanced technology in this area.

"We want greater cooperation because water and power are for everyone," he underlined and called on other Mediterranean countries to help.

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who was present at the dinner, said that Greece actively encourages the formation of a "regional force for natural disasters, especially putting out fires". He praised the "excellent example" given by Abbas, who sent aid immediately in response to Israel's call for help, and said it was a good opportunity to see where cooperation was possible.

Also present during the dinner was Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.