The meeting of Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday was held in a very cordial atmosphere and turned a new page in Greek-Russian relations, on the basis of a sincere dialogue, Dendias said during joint statements to reporters with Lavrov after their meeting.
Greek diplomatic sources had earlier said that testament to this exemplary meeting was the fact it extended past the scheduled duration by a whole hour-and-a-half.
“Our bilateral relations are founded on timeless ties of friendship, mutual respect and understanding,” Dendias noted and underlined the significance of the joint Greece-Russia Consultations Program 2020-2022, which the two ministers signed and which foresees regularly held meetings at both political and in-house level.
Dendias pointed out that as Greece is emerging from the financial crisis it is returning to international fora, and intends to take advantage of its geographical position as a NATO member and a member of the European Union, and even the Council of Europe, whose presidency it will assume next year.
“Given Greece’s position as a veteran EU and NATO member-state, we seek to contribute positively to the dialogue with Russia. We want to further develop our relations in view of maintaining regional stability and enhancing security, especially at this sensitive conjuncture,” he elaborated.
Greek, Russian role in Europe
Dendias expanded on the diplomatic outlook and said that “given the consistent stance of Greek foreign policy that Russia is part of the European security framework, Greece can prove particularly useful to Russia, if the latter wishes so, in building the necessary understanding, resolving existing differences, comprehending the measures needed towards a normalization where necessary, and in overcoming unpleasant realities by eliminating their causes,” emphasized Dendias.
The Greek minister invited Russian companies to invest in Greece and cited his government’s latest development bill, which reduces bureaucratic procedures quite considerably, as an attractive incentive for investors.
“We underlined the fact that several synergies have so far grown between Greek and Russian companies, primarily in the natural gas sector, but we are also interested in boosting cooperation in renewable energy sources too,” he noted.
The migration crisis, its challenges and inherent dangers were also discussed, on which Dendias said that “Greece underlines that it is unacceptable when the protection of thousands of people becomes a tool of political influence.” He then referred to the Cyprus issue, with Greece “supporting the efforts of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to solve the issue based on the UN Security Council’s resolutions.” On the latter, Dendias added that “changing this anachronistic system of security guarantees to a system actively participated by the security council, is a timely change.”
On his part, Sergey Lavrov said that “our relations are defined by a centuries-long history and characterized by mutual liking.”
“2021 will mark the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence, which gave rise to the independent Greek state, an event to which our country contributed in every possible way,” added Lavrov and revealed that with his Greek counterpart “we discussed possible joint events in the context of this anniversary.” Dendias noted that Greece will soon send an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to participate in these commemorative events.
Lavrov also conveyed the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary since the end of World War II that will be held in Russia in 2020.
Another issue discussed was the recognition of the independence of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, on which both ministers agreed it isn’t an issue that affects or might affect Greek-Russian relations, while both stressed the independence of state and church. In addition, Lavrov said the issue arose through the influence of the US, which he said tried to drive a wedge in the Orthodox world.
On the trial of financial criminal Aleksandr Vinik (known as “Mr. Bitcoin”, who is currently being detained in Greece with pending extradition orders to the US, Russia and France, Dendias said that “we all understand that this is a matter that rests in the hands of the Greek judicial system.”