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Dendias: Greece Supports Iraq's Unity and Territorial Integrity

Αssociated Press

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, left, welcomes his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein prior their talks in Athens, on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ΑΤΗΕNS -- Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in joint statements with with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein in Athens on Friday, said that Greece fully supports the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and condemns all illegal intrusions into its territory that are euphemistically dubbed "peacekeeping missions".

In the context of good neighbour relations, Greece holds that countries must avoid any form of intimidation, Dendias said, following his meeting with Hussein.

"Greece's aim is to promote peace and prosperity," he noted, adding that the Philia Forum held in Athens with the participation of seven countries was organised in this spirit and was "not an alliance against anyone" but an "effort for multilateral cooperation that is open to all countries that respect international law and support the cementing of peace in the region."

He deplored the fact that this initiative, instead of prompting a like response, was being "distorted by certain centres, which level accusations and insults against us," while adding that Greece will not be drawn into using such rhetoric but strive to de-escalate tension and, when the conditions permit, to create a climate of cooperation with all parties.

Greece believes that "as a matter of principle, bilateral differences must be resolved peacefully and on the basis of international law. The threat of force, the use of force, is not among the things that the Hellenic Republic tolerates or supports," he added.

Friday's visit by the Iraqi minister returns Dendias' visit to Baghdad in October, which was the first by a Greek minister in 20 years. It had not been possible at that time for Dendias to also carry out a planned visit Erbil, where Greece has a consulate, with the two ministers agreeing that Dendias must visit Baghdad again soon, as well as Erbil and Basra, possibly with Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis and a business mission.

Dendias noted the significant room for further developing bilateral economic relations, such as in renewable energy, construction, agricultural products or tourism, and highlighted the many features that the two countries have in common, including their shared history.

He also said that both countries are dedicated to the values of the United Nations and the full respect of international law, including the Law on the Sea, as well as to protecting peace and stability in the region.

The Greek minister unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks targeting civilians in Baghdad on January 21 and expressed Greece support for the government and people of Iraq. He also thanked Iraq for its support of Greek positions at international organisations, saying that Greece will do the same in a spirit of mutuality, starting with EU-Iraqi issues.

Iraq's minister, on his part, highlighted Greece's support in the fight against terrorism and Daesh, emphasising that Baghdad supports dialogue as the only means for resolving problems.

He noted that Iraq wants to have good relations with all countries and for these relations to be based on international law, non-interference in domestic issues and the "choice of dialogue as the only means for resolving issues."

Hussein also emphasised that stability in Iraq was essential for stability in the region, adding that the terrorist attacks destabilised the region and threatened world peace.

He said the discussion with Dendias had touched on possible Greek investments in Iraq, such as in the port city of Basra, and in renewable energy.

The meeting, which was also attended by Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi, also touched on migration, where Hussein thanked Greece for accepting thousands of Iraqi migrants and discussed the issue of voluntary returns.