ATHENS (Nov. 14)
The Greek government, actively seeking a mediator role in the Middle East, is playing up its Arab contacts and its improved relations with Israel.
A Greek agricultural delegation left for Israel Monday to exchange ideas and know-how with Israeli experts in the field. A day earlier, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou returned from his three-day official visit to Syria and Jordan, hailing it as one of the most successful trips of its kind he has ever made.
The delegation that went to Israel is the first since the two countries signed an agricultural agreement in 1979. There have been higher level exchanges since the Socialist government came to power here in 1981. But the Greek media, encouraged by the government, gave this latest junket extensive coverge, according to some observers, more than it warranted.
Sources close to the Israli diplomatic mission here suggested that the Greeks are trying to balance the effects of Papandreou’s trip to Syria and Jordan, countries still technically in a state of war with Israel. “Greece wants to signal us that the recent improvement of relations (with Israel) is still on,” an Israeli source said.
PAPANDREOU TO PRESS EEC
Papandreou told reporters on his return Sunday that Greece will undertake the role of mediator between the Arab world and the European Economic Community (EEC) of which it is a member. “I asked both Syria and Jordan to give me a working paper that I can present to the next EEC summit in Dublin in order to try to persuade the Community to pass another resolution with regard to the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian disput,” the Prime Minister said. “I think the EEC is ready now to take two more steps forward,” Papandreou added.
He is also said to be seeking for Greece a mediating role in the Israel-Arab dispute, even a small one, which he can present to the voters in the elections 10 months from now as an example of how other countries seek the good offices of Greece.