Dendias: Greece is ready to help UN efforts in Syria

Geir O. Pedersen and Nikos Dendias

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced Greece’s readiness to assist United Nations efforts in Syria.

Following a phone conversation with Geir Pedersen, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Dendias went to Twitter to announce the communication.

On Twitter, Dendias said that “recent developments in Syria and Greece‘s readiness to assist UN regional security efforts” were discussed.

Earlier this week, Dendias commented that Greece considers its relations with Syria and Libya “extremely important.”

At the Conference of the Hellenic Society of International Law and International Relations, Dendias said:

“We consider extremely important our relations with countries that are united in addressing regional challenges, such as Syria and Libya, and we are against the strong intervention of Turkey in the region.”

Last year, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced a restoration of relations between Greece and Syria and assigned former ambassador to Syria and Russia, Tasia Athanassiou, as a Special Envoy of Greece’s Foreign Ministry for Syria.

Dendias: Greece is ready to help UN efforts in Syria 1
Two Syrian Orthodox priests wait for the arrival Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill outside the Maryamiyya Church in old town of Damascus on November 12, 2011. AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The appointment of Athanassiou is extremely strategic as she was Greece’s ambassador to Damascus from 2009 to 2012, meaning she is already familiar with Syria and their authorities.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that contacts will be made for the “international aspects of Syria and related humanitarian action, as well as coordination of actions in view of the ongoing efforts to rebuild Syria.”

In addition, the Greek Ambassador to Lebanon met with the Damascus-based Patriarch John X of Antioch on Wednesday.

Ambassador Katrina Fontoulaki met with Patriarch John X at the the Patriarchal Residence in Balamand on Wednesday in the northern Koura district of Lebanon.

Patriarch John X of Antioch with Ambassador Katrina Fontoulaki.

The meeting included an overview of the general situation in Lebanon while also emphasising the importance of promoting the relations between Greece and the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

It can be assumed that the meeting between the pair would have been part of Greece’s rapprochement with Syria after abandoning the country in 2012 as the Syrian War began to intensify.

Although still named after Antioch, the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Church relocated to the Syrian capital of Damascus in 1342 AD following the Ottoman invasion of the region.

The Antiochian Orthodox Church was based in Antioch, once a part of Syria but stolen by Turkey in an illegal referendum in 1939 and renamed Hatay province.

Greek Ambassador to Lebanon meets with Syria-based Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch 2

The Church covers Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and parts of Turkey, as well as diaspora communities.

READ MORE: Greece’s renewed relations with Syria further isolates Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.