Al Jazeera’s David Poort reports from Corfu island 4Jul11 July 5, 2011

Aljazeera -  4 July 2011

The governor of the Greek Ionian Islands supports the ‘aid flotilla’ to Gaza, but he says he is powerless against his government’s decision to block them from setting sail.

Governor Spiros Spirou, who holds office on Corfu, told Al Jazeera on Monday that he sympathises with the plight of the Palestinians and the activists trying the break the bolckade against the Gaza Strip.

“I will not stop them (the activists) if they set sail now, but others might,” Spirou said.

“I admire their (the activists) efforts, but we in Greece live in a period of crisis.”

Spirou denied that Greece is taking orders from Israel, but said there are certain dependencies and agreements that his country has to take into account.

“Greece loves peace, but at this moment it can’t confront more powerful economic forces,” the governor said.

The provincial governor said he tried to talk to the ministry of the protection of citizens to get answers about why the activists awere being blocked, but he did not get a response.

“It’s obvious that the ministry has changed its policy in comparison to last year. International dealings have been made and we have to act accordingly.”

The activists said they still hoped to be granted permission to set sail if their paper work was in order. However, Spirou said that the paper work was a pretext used by Athens to keep them docked in the harbour.

“The ban has come from the ministries in Athens and I have no responsibility for it at all – I’ve tried to get in contact with them and get an explanation but I have not been able to get through,” he said. “Right now Greece is in crisis and decisions have been taken at an international level.”

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