Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias stressed during the welcoming remarks of the Athens Retreat on Syria on Friday that the international community must aim at safeguarding Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity.
These factors comprise the basic principles of Greece's foreign policy, he added at the meeting in Kavouri, on the coast south of Athens.
The war in Syria "has become the epicenter of a serious humanitarian crisis and of illegal military interventions by third parties, against international laws, while we have also witnessed the rise of terrorist and criminal networks," Dendias said.
"As a country very near Syria, and one with very strong historical ties with it - including its local Christian communities - Greece has felt the repercussions from the war at first hand," the minister noted.
"Greece is trying to help in every possible way in the humanitarian aspect, through the United Nations' efforts and in coordination with its European Union partners."
"In this spirit," Dendias said, "Greece strongly supports the efforts by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen," with whom he met earlier in the day.
"The worsening of relations with Russia has highlighted the significance of Arab countries in Europe's energy and food security. As a result, our collaboration with regional players has become a significant priority for Greece, but also, we believe, for the European Union as well," the Greek minister noted.
"Additionally, the war in Syria has underlined the need to protect civilians from significant violations of human rights and of International Law in general, while Greece has provided humanitarian help for Syria and, after the catastrophic earthquakes, for civilians in Turkey as well."
"On our part, we have been working for a while on the building of a framework of security in the Middle East and the East Mediterranean," Dendias reiterated, "a framework firmly based on International Law and on the principle of good neighbourly relations, where all are invited to collaborate with us as long as they commit to these principles."
"Greece and the Cyprus Republic, for example, have invested in multilateral collaborations with key partners like Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel - mechanisms of collaboration that provide added value to our societies, our environment, and our economies," he noted.
Dendias also pointed out that as Syria lies in its immediate neighbourhood, the EU carries a particular obligation in terms of stability in the middle East, while "Greece is determined to play a leading role in further initiatives to promote collaboration between the European Union and the Arab world," sharing in the common goal of peace in Syria.
The Athens Retreat on Syria is organised by the European Union, with the assistance of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will be attended, inter alia, by EU Member States' Special Representatives for Syria.