The meeting of Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on 6 November 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 said that the meeting extended an hour-and-a-half beyond schedule, suggesting that various issues wered discussed in-depth.
«Our bilateral relations are founded on age-old ties of friendship, mutual respect, and understanding,» Dendias said.
He underlined the significance of the joint Greece-Russia Consultations Program 2020-2022, which the two ministers signed and which provides for regularly held meetings at the political 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 also the Council of Europe, whose presidency it will assume next year.
Greece wants to advance bilateral, EU-Russia dialogue
«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 with a view to maintaining regional stability and enhancing security, especially at this sensitive juncture,» said the Greek foreign minister.
Dendias elaborated on Greece’s 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, in building the necessary understanding, resolving existing differences, comprehending the measures needed towards a normalisation where necessary, and in overcoming problems and friction by eliminating their causes,” he underlined.
The Greek minister invited Russian companies to invest in Greece and cited the Greek government’s recent development bill as s strong incentive as it greatly reduces bureaucratic red tape.
«We underlined the fact that several synergies have already developed between Greek and Russian companies, primarily in the natural gas sector, but we are also interested in boosting cooperation in renewable energy sources,» Dendias noted.
Migration issue discussed
The migration crisis, its challenges and inherent dangers were also discussed.
Dendias said that «Greece stresses that it is unacceptable when the protection of thousands of people becomes a tool of political influence.» in a thinly veiled reference to Turkey.
He then underlined the importance of resolving the Cyprus problem and stressed that Greece «supports the effort of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to solve the issue based on UN Security Council’s resolutions.»
Dendias also stressed that Greece advocates «changing the anachronistic system of security guarantees into a system in which the UN Security Council has a central role and that this is a timely change.»
For his part, Lavrov said that «our relations are defined by a centuries-long history and are characterised by mutual sympathy.»
«2021 will mark the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence, which gave rise to the independent Modern 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 Putin’s invitation to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II that will be held in Russia in 2020.
Another issue discussed was the recognition of the independence (autocephaly) of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church.
Both ministers agreed that 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.