Moscow.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
“The occasion for my visit is the 190th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, which are based on strong historical, religious, cultural and intellectual ties between our people,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I consider that this significant historical foundation has allowed us to build a stable but also dynamic relationship through the centuries, which, in its turn, made it possible for us to continue conversing and cooperating with each other even when geopolitcal developments kept us apart,” Tsipras added.
Tsipras referred to his visit to Moscow in 2015, at a difficult time for Greece, and after five years of stagnation, as he said, noting that they had then agreed to rebuild the constructive relation between Greece and Russia.
The Greek prime minister noted that “Greece is an EU state-member and a member of NATO and meets its commitments but believes that any European security architecture or initiative for resolving important international challenges must include Russia and be based on a sincere dialogue with [Russia]”.
“Greek-Russian dialogue was not always easy, as was proved in the summer. However, our desire that our relations should remain on the firm tracks that we built with hard work since 2015 helps us to overcome the difficulties and return to the essential mutual respect and mutual understanding,” said Tsipras.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Russia was especially timely, in joint statements after their meeting on Friday in Moscow.
“Many prospects unite us,” said President Putin.
He underlined the emphasis that both countries place on investments and the trade sector, while again noting that the current year was the 190th anniversary since Greece and Russia first established diplomatic relations.
Speaking with figures, Putin noted that last year bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 27 percent, reaching 3.7 billion dollars and afterwards referred to other sectors on which Russian interest is focused, namely energy, culture and tourism.
Especially for tourism, the Russian president referred to the record number of Russians that visited Greece last year, noting that this number was expected to reach 1 million tourists this year.
The first question to the two leaders was put by Greek public broadcaster ERT, concerning the post-programme period in Greece. Putin expressed a wish that the Greek people will soon get past the difficulties they are facing and congratulated the Greek prime minister for having, as he put it, a progressive outlook concerning growth in Greece.
The second question was asked by a Russian journalist, and it concerned the Russian diplomats’ deportation. Putin said that this page was now closed. “From the beginning, we did not agree on the subject of deportations,” he said, adding that various rumours alluding to a conspiracy against Greece were nonsense.
– To a question asked by a Russian journalist concerning the Russian diplomats’ deportation, PM Tsipras replied: “I will agree with President Putin that we must now look ahead,” and added that for as long as he is prime minister, Greece’s actions will not be determined by the pressure of other countries.
On the other hand, Tsipras continued, when we see specific events that disturb us it is our duty to give a message, and then start looking ahead again.
In conclusion, we look ahead and the matter is closed, Tsipras said, stressing how important it is to take advantage of the great opportunities lying ahead.
– To a question asked by Athens-Macedonia News Agency Nikos Lionakis about whether the improvement of Greek-American relations will bear a negative impact on the relations between Greece and Russian, the Greek PM replied that for the last 3.5 years, the government has proved that can Greece can be a reliable ally for its NATO and EU partners and at the same time continue its honest and long-lasting cooperation with Russia.
Greece can act as a “bridge” between NATO, the EU and Russia, Tsipras said, and added that this is what makes Greece important and valuable to all three parties.
FM SERGEY LAVROF
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke of a new starting point in Greek-Russian relations in an interview with ‘Efimerida Ton Syntakton’ newspaper released on Friday.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will offer an opportunity to put bilateral dialogue back onto a normal footing, he said and added:
“We are convinced that there are objectively no obstacles that would hinder the stable development of the Russian-Greek relations. We can increase joint efforts to deepen relations in all areas, including those of trade, economy and investment. Among our priorities must be the implementation of major joint projects, which will allow us to reach new levels of cooperation.”
Lavrov said that the situation in the Balkans is a cause for concern and criticised NATO and the EU for “stepping up efforts to ‘absorb’ the region with Kosovo as the main source of destabilisation.”
He explained that stability in the Mediterranean region was probably not feasible without a just solution to the long-standing Palestinian problem on the basis of UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Finally, he said that the Russian Foreign Ministry remains committed to a comprehensive, fair, stable and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
PM Tsipras: we are
“We are restoring the relations between Greece and Russia, bringing them back on the rails we have laboriously laid since 2015,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said about his visit to Moscow and meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev, in an article published on Saturday in Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper.
Greece’s aim is to take advantage of the opportunities opening up for Greek-Russian relations after the country’s exit from the crisis, he continued, and stressed the important role Greece is beginning to establish “as a European power and bridge of cooperation with a strong, historical partner, in a moment crucial for geopolitical developments.”
Tsipras then presented the main issues currently at stake in Greek-Russian relations, namely, Russian investments in Greece, improved Greek export performance, expansion of energy cooperation under a new basis, and Russia’s role in ensuring a fair and sustainable solution for the Cypriot issue.
He then referred to his visit in Moscow and St Petersburg in 2015, explaining that his purpose was not to ask for economic support in the event of a bankruptcy following Greece’s return to the national currency but to revive relations between the two countries, which had been lying dormant for five years.
Exit from the Eurozone was never a choice the government considered, Tsipras said.
About the Prespes Agreement, he underlined that “Greece does not deal with its crucial national issues in the light of third parties,” whether these are its NATO allies or important partners like Russia. Instead, he said, the government’s only guide when dealing with such issues are Greece’s national interests.