MFA Reaction to Statement by Greek Foreign Minister

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
August 26, 1997

Greek Foreign Minister Theodorus Pangalos stated in the course of a meeting with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Dr. Ahmad Esmat Abd-al-Meguid that terrorist acts are worthy of condemnation but that they cannot be used as an excuse for reprisals against a noncombatant population. Pangalos further stated that the European Union possesses the means to put economic pressure upon Israel and it should make use of them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strenuously and categorically rejects these assertions. The steps which Israel took in the wake of the terrorist outrage at the Mahaneh Yehudah market in Jerusalem were necessary in order to protect the lives of civilians from further terrorist attacks. These measures were not intended to cause harm to the civilian population nor to undermine the status of the Palestinian Authority. If the PA had actually fulfilled its responsibilities and acted resolutely to uproot the terrorist scourge from areas under its control, then the the civilian population of both sides would have been spared suffering.

The Greek Foreign Minister’s call for the European Union to take economic measures against Israel is inappropriate and detrimental to the peace process. We are convinced that the statement by the Greek Foreign Minister does not reflect the opinion of the vast majority of EU members.

Viewed against the backdrop of improved relations between Israel and Greece over the past year, an improvement which was reflected by Foreign Minister Panaglos’ visit to Israel in May 1997, these remarks are regrettable. They reflect a one-sided stance and are inconsistent with Greece’s professed desire, and ability, to aid the peace process.