Greek FM expresses concern over situation in Gaza, Red Sea

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry holds a press conference with his Greek counterpart George Gerapetritis in Cairo, 17 January 2024

Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Gerapetritis, said on Wednesday that his country is concerned about the current situation in Gaza and the escalation in the Red Sea, where a Greek vessel was hit by the Houthis a day earlier.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry holds a press conference with his Greek counterpart George Gerapetritis in Cairo, 17 January 2024
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry holds a press conference with his Greek counterpart George Gerapetritis in Cairo, 17 January 2024

“We are very concerned about the situation amid the spread of hostilities from all directions and on all sides. There have been hostilities in northern Israel, southern Lebanon, and the Red Sea,” Gerapetritis said in a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.

The developments in the Red Sea captured global attention after the Houthis started attacking Israel-linked shipping near the Bab al-Mandab strait south of the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians. In addition, the retaliatory strikes by the US and the UK against the Houthis strongholds in Yemen also made headlines. 

Seven of the biggest shipping companies – including CMA-CGM, Hapag-Llyod, and Maersk – have suspended all journeys through the Red Sea for security reasons.

Gerapetritis said the hostilities in the Red Sea “affects the safety of [commercial] trips and international trade, a matter which is of particular concern to us.”

Greece’s FM warned of the global consequence that could arise at the humanitarian and financial level if the hostilities expand in the crucial maritime commercial route.

Greece, Gerapetritis asserted, does not support any form of hostility, calling for a dialogue to prevent violations of international and sea laws.

He said he discussed during his meeting with Shoukry the developments in Gaza and the Red Sea, noting that Egypt, the owner of the Suez Canal, is a “strategic” ally of Greece in the region.

About 12 percent of world shipping traffic transits the canal that links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, creating the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Gerapetritis also voiced his country’s rejection of any attempt to displace the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and stressed the necessity of establishing an independent Palestinian state.

“We are working with Egypt on a two-state solution,” he said during the press conference, adding that Egypt and Greece “are exerting every effort to resolve the crisis in the Gaza Strip.”

The Greek minister also hailed the Egyptian initiatives to end the crisis in Gaza.

On his part, Shoukry also highlighted the necessity of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel’s war has killed over 24,285 Palestinians.

He added that Egypt will continue to work with its partners to push for the much-needed ceasefire in the Palestinian territory.

Egypt’s top diplomat underscored that the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders is the only solution to the decades-old conflict.

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