Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has said that he sent a letter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague asking for the investigation of crimes against the ethnic Greek community committed in Mariupol and two other villages in eastern Ukraine.
In an interview with daily kathimerini, Dendias stressed that “Greece will continue to raise the issue of Mariupol in all forums and emphasize that the commission of war crimes should be thoroughly investigated. That is why I sent a letter to the Attorney General of the International Criminal Court asking him to investigate the crimes committed both in Mariupol and in the villages of Sartana and Volnovaka, where at the beginning of the war, we had expatriates who fell victims of air strikes.”
The FM underlined that “for Greece, the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid to the Greek community in Ukraine is a top priority, especially in the Black Sea coastal cities, in cities such as Mariupol and Odessa, where the Greek element has lived for centuries.”
He said that evacuation operations will continue unabated.
Regarding the Greek-Russian relations and that some in Greece argue that the country has sufficiently supported Ukraine and should be more “cautious” towards Russia, recalling that “Greece maintained historical ties with Russia,” Dendias said:
“Greece always took care to maintain channels of communication with Russia, even when we belonged to different geopolitical “camps”. Both the Prime Minister and I have made efforts to restore and develop these relations in recent years. And to a large extent we had succeeded, through frequent contacts at the political level. Greek society, like the rest of Europe, also has close cultural ties with the particularly rich Russian culture. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Mayakovsky, Tchaikovsky, Pushkin are a particularly important part of Europe’s cultural tradition.
But on whether we should be more “careful” towards Russia, let me reverse it. Should Russia have avoided violating principles on which the European security system is based and which it has allegedly supported over time?”
Dendias defended the policy saying “Greece had no choice, no choice. It did what the principles it serves dictate, the principles of international law, the Charter of the United Nations: Respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states. Greece condemns any invasion as a starting point. We would be inconsistent if, defending our positions e.g. in the Cyprus issue, we did not defend the same principles in every case. By its actions, Russia, unfortunately, did not allow us a choice. The level of Greek-Russian relations is the result of the choices of the Russian government, not of our country.”
Full interview at Foreign Ministry website