Greece Upgrades Palestinian Representation Status

Greece became the sixth European country to upgrade the diplomatic status of the Palestinian Authority Tuesday, accepting formal ambassador credentials from the Palestinian envoy to Athens.

"I am very proud to be the first Palestinian ambassador to present my credentials to his excellency the president of the Greek republic," the envoy Samir Abu Ghazaleh said, after handing his letters of credence to Greek President Carolos Papoulias.

"The development reaffirms the support of Greece for the just struggle of our people for freedom, independence and peace," he added.

The Palestinian Authority's envoy to Greece since 2006, 65-year-old Ghazaleh has until now only been received by the Greek foreign minister; only full ambassadors are received by the country's president.

France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Noway have similarly elevated the status of the Palestinian delegations in their countries to "diplomatic mission" -- a status that is one notch below an embassy but which nonetheless recognizes its chief as ambassador.

A Greek foreign ministry spokesman said last week the Palestinian Authority would still be considered as a "diplomatic representation."

Still, a Palestinian official said the ambassadorial upgrade was "not only a technicality."

"We consider this important," the official said. "It's a political gain for us."

Source: Agence France Presse

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