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14 August, 2006
For the past month the world has borne witness to another tragic chapter in the history of the Middle East; an unbearable addition to the pain of this long-suffering region.
The images of helpless children and mothers, wounded, sick and despondent victims on either side of the conflict, untold destruction and unimaginable pain has haunted all of us. It has shown, once more, how much we have failed, as an international community, the hopes and dreams and aspirations of all these people.
Greece has from the very first moment of the outbreak of the current crisis called for an immediate ceasefire.
War is not and cannot be the answer to anything. Violence never solved any problem. It only serves to breed more violence and to create a new generation full of hatred, void of hope and keen on revenge. A nurturing field for extremism and terrorism.
The Middle East has been suffering from this never ending circle of vicious wars and unstable peace, broken promises and lost lives, unspeakable tragedy, not for years but for decades now.
History has proven time and again that neither victories in the battlefields nor blind violence against innocent civilians or suicide bombings or Katyusha rockets ever solved or will ever solve the problems of the Middle East or any other region for that matter. These are issues which need political solutions brought up through diplomatic means. In a spirit of compromise, mutual respect and acceptance.
The resolution we adopted here today is trying to do precisely that. It offers the basis for a political solution to this long-lasting – and admittedly extremely difficult and complex - problem. It also offers the framework of a political process with concrete goals and specific benchmarks and timeframes.
Full respect of the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon is the first and foremost of these benchmarks. Security Council Resolutions 425, 1559 and 1680 must be fully implemented. After all, it is a matter of principle that all Security Council resolutions be fully respected and properly implemented.
In the last two years, the international community has done an exceptional work in ridding Lebanon of any foreign presence. It is therefore not conceivable that it could accept foreign occupation on any part of Lebanese national territory.
Occupation by any foreign force anywhere in the world is not admissible in any way or under any pretext.
It is imperative for the Lebanese Government to take effective and immediate control of the Lebanese territory in its entirety through the withdrawal of the Israeli military forces and the deployment of the Lebanese army. It is also imperative to proceed, the soonest possible, with the delineation of the international borders of Lebanon including the Shebaa farms. The Secretary-General while presenting his proposals should take into consideration the seven points of the Siniora Plan.
Israeli legitimate security concerns are well understood and need to be properly addressed. We continue though to believe that while preserving the right of self defence, Israel must respect its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law.
We see this resolution as a first but very important step towards a lasting and sustainable peace. We are fully aware that a lot remains to be done. We need to make sure that this resolution will be fully implemented.
The bloodshed has to stop; and it has to stop now. The bombings have to stop; and they have to stop now. The suffering of the civilians has to stop; and it has to stop now.
Greece responded immediately to the enormous humanitarian effort under way in Lebanon. But the ongoing hostilities hamper our ability to reach those most in need and alleviate their pain.
Now that the end of hostilities is hopefully in sight, we stand ready, together with the rest of the international community, and especially the countries of the region, to help in the enormous effort for the reconstruction of a shattered country, the immediate return of refugees back to their homes and –hopefully- the dawn of a new day over both Lebanon and Israel.
It is in this respect that this resolution deserves our support and –even more important- deserves our commitment to work very hard in the coming days on the crucial steps which need to follow if we want our efforts to bring tangible results and not end in one more disappointing failure.
It is in this spirit that we call upon the parties to set aside their fears and disappointments and, difficult as it might be, make the necessary commitment and effort to overcome the current crisis and build a better future for their people.
At this particularly critical juncture in the history of the Middle East, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture and allow ourselves to forget the suffering and the plight of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. The question of Palestine, central in the whole Middle East conflict, should be addressed with the utmost urgency. As long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved, it is clear that there will be no peace in the region.
We must strive to create, the soonest possible, the necessary conditions for the genuine and in earnest re-launching of a peace process for the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, as well as on the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace.
Thank you, Mr. President
Source: Press Office of the Embassy of Greece