Greek FM Giorgos Gerapetritis on Wednesday briefed parliament deputies on the Mitsotakis government’s intent to participate in maritime protection missions in the Red Sea, speaking on the same day as EU defense ministers reportedly agreed to give Athens command of a military operation in the all-important shipping lane.

Gerapetritis said the country will be present in all international initiatives that guarantee peace and international legality in the Middle East,” in response to questions tabled at the foreign affairs and defense committee.

He added that the country will also participate with a naval asset, for “symbolic and significant reasons” in missions headed by the US and UK in the Red Sea, with a Hellenic Navy frigate to serve in a “purely supportive and defensive role.”

Athens has voiced its strong support for international action to prevent attacks by north Yemen-based Houthi rebels on vessels sailing in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Gerapetritis said the situation has affected maritime shipping and by extension global commerce and specific regional economies, especially in Egypt due to decreased Suez Canal traffic but also in Jordan and Lebanon.

In deflecting sharp opposition criticism of any Greek involvement in the specific conflict zone, he said it was the country’s duty to protect Greek shipping and merchant seamen.