Official TalksConclusion of Two AgreementsTo the Tomb of the Unknown SoldierMeeting the Arab Diplomatic CorpsGathering with the Lebanese CommunitySecond Round of Talks with President StephanopoulosDinner Banquet Thrown by President StephanopoulosFares is Decorated the Grand Cross of the PhoenixFares Holds A Press Conference Greek President Constantine Stephanopoulos affirmed his country’s support for Lebanon in all areas, emphasizing the importance of pursuing bilateral cooperation by securing a consensus on mutual common points. For its part, the Lebanese side underlined the necessity to develop the Lebanese-Greek relations, raising high hopes for Greece to pursue its role for the settlement of a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The two stances came on the heels of the talks held by the Lebanese and Greek parties at the Greek Presidential Palace, on the first leg of an official visit to Greece.
Later, the Greek President held a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart attended by Fares and First Lady Mrs. Andre Lahoud. Later, a large round of talks took place at the conference hall which Fares attended with the members of the Lebanese delegation. The Greek side, for its part, was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the Director General of the Greek Presidency, the Director General of the Greek Foreign Ministry, the Director of the Middle East Office, and Greece Ambassador to Lebanon. During the talks, Greek President Stephanopoulos wholeheartedly welcomed the Lebanese delegation, expressing delight at this important visit. He revealed that his country follows up with great concern the situation in Lebanon, mainly under the volatile perilous situation we are going through. Talks mainly touched upon bilateral relations, the Euro-Mediterranean relations, the relations between Greece and the Arab States, economic and commercial cooperation, and rebalancing trade balance.
At the end of the talks, the two Presidents and the members of both delegations moved to a hall where two agreements were concluded: the first is a protocol of cooperation between the Foreign Ministries of both countries, and the other is pertaining to cultural and scientific cooperation. The agreements were signed on the Lebanese side by Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares and on the Greek side by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. The parties agreed to sign later a third agreement relating to prisoners purging sentences.
From the Greek Presidential Palace, Fares, President Lahoud and the accompanying delegation moved to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where they were hosted by Youth Minister, Athens’ Governor, and security officials. A wreath was laid down on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the rhythm of the Lebanese and Greek national anthems that were played on the occasion
In the afternoon, Fares and President Lahoud met the Arab Ambassadors accredited in Greece in presence of the members of the Lebanese delegation. Palestinian Ambassador took the floor, saluting the Lebanese delegation. In turn, the Lebanese President exposed to the Arab Ambassadors the outcome of his talks with President Stephanopoulos and Greece determination to assist Lebanon on the basis of the two countries’ joint interests. Explaining Lebanon’s stance regarding the regional and international developments, he also underscored the importance of consolidating the historic relations between Greece and the Arab countries and focusing on the urging necessity to establish a just and global peace.
Fares and President Lahoud met the Lebanese community members in Greece during a reception organized by Lebanon’s Ambassador to Greece William Habib. Among the attendees was the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Greece the Papal Ambassador of Lebanese origin. The reception provided a chance to exchange points of view with the Lebanese emigrants, mainly regarding their job opportunities and living conditions. The Lebanese official side called upon the international community to embody international legitimacy and to abide by the international resolutions, pinning high hopes on the European Union to play a more active and dynamic role in the settlement of the Middle East crisis.
Before concluding his visit to Greece by attending the dinner banquet thrown by the Greek President, Fares attended the second and last round of talks held by President Lahoud and his Greek homologue. Talks were devoted to discuss the mechanism agreed upon with the Greek parties to follow up the implementation of the issues raised during the reunions. During the talks, the Lebanese President stressed that Lebanon is a message that is based on amiability, forgiveness, and the coexistence of 17 Christian and Muslim sects. For his part, Deputy Premier Fares had also held a series of talks with a number of Greek officials among who figure the Justice Minister and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Talks were dedicated to discuss the details of the topics raised between the Lebanese and Greek parties.
Wrapping up their visit to Greece, Fares, President Lahoud, Mrs. Andre Lahoud, and the delegation members attended the dinner banquet thrown by Greek President Constantine Stephanopoulos, the head of the House of Parliament, the Arab and foreign Ambassadors accredited in Athens, as well as political personalities, religious dignitaries, and members of the Lebanese community.
On the heels of his official visit to Greece, Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares held a press conference during which he assessed the outcome of the talks held with the Greek officials and answered the journalists’ questions. Below are the key points highlighted in the conference: -During our talks, we raised the necessity to hold regular meetings between the two countries’ Chambers of Industry& Trade, the exchange of expertise in the area of construction between Lebanon and Greece, and among the other Arab countries as well. -The Greek party expressed readiness to help Lebanon sign the Euro Partnership Agreement -Lebanon supported and will always support Greece in its regional problems, and Greece backs Lebanon in all its causes. The Greek parties pledged to show cooperation with Lebanon in all fields -Greece will chair the European Union in 2003 and the Greeks are very effective at the present time. They are friends to the Arabs and to Lebanon in particular. I seize this opportunity to praise the success of this visit in all its stages.