Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called for an emergency international Middle East peace initiative while on a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories today, and he participated immediately thereafter in a teleconference between EU foreign ministers focusing on the raging problem.

He condemned Hamas and supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

Dendias told journalists that an immediate ceasefire is needed and that the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on UN Security Council resolutions calling for “two states with the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

Meanwhile, the Greek foreign minister criticised Turkey’s stance toward the conflict stressing that, “inflammatory remarks and unilateral positions” do not help the quest for a solution.

Mr. Dendias’ full remarks to journalists are as follows:

Staunch support for Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

“I met today in Jerusalem with Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem in order to state clearly the interest of the Greek government and of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which is one of the most sacred institutions of Christendom.”

“Immediately thereafter, I met with my Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, and I went to Ramallah where I met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. After these meetings I briefed via teleconference the Council of EU foreign ministers on the talks. I shall shortly be leaving for Amman, Jordan for talks with my colleague Ayman Safadi.”

For his part, Ashkenazi posted the following tweet:

Welcome my friend, Greek FM @NikosDendias. I am very pleased that you have chosen to visit as a message of solidarity & further evidence of our close relationship. I thank you & the people of #Greece for supporting our right to ensure peace & security for the citizens of #Israel.

‘Protection of human rights, human life’

“I made it clear that what is needed is an immediate ceasefire, the protection of human rights, and the protection of human life. I condemned in the strongest possible terms Hamas’s firing of thousands of rockets on Israel. It is an action that is absolutely and wholly condemnable,” Dendias said.

“I also said that Israel, like every country in the world, has a right to defend itself. Following that, I stated that a Middle East [peace] initiative must be undertaken. A vacuum without any initiative creates the problems that confront us – human tragedies.”

“The solution at which one must arrive is clear. It is the solution provided for in international law and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions – two states with the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.”
Situation in Gaza problematic

“I think the situation in Gaza is absolutely problematic and we must do all that we can to help. I repeat, however, that Hamas is absolutely to be condemned for firing thousands of rockets against unarmed [Israeli] civilians.”

Criticism of Turkey’s stance

As for Turkey’s stance in the conflict Dendias noted, “What I have to say is that inflammatory statements and unilateral positions during an exceptionally sensitive situation and in an extraordinarily sensitive region are not helpful.”

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