Greece will try to minimize impact of Russian embargo, Venizelos says

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday said Greece was trying to contain the damage from Russia's embargo on food imports from the European Union.

“We are in contact [with Russia] in order to minimize, and if possible eliminate, the repercussions [from the embargo],” Venizelos told journalists.

“As an EU country that is consistent with its community obligations, we try to have the best possible relations with all nations and we try to protect Greece's agricultural production,” said Venizelos adding that Russia's decision was affecting all western countries.

Earlier Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would ban fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the EU, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

The decision follows a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin ordering the government to ban or limit food imports from states that imposed sanctions on Moscow for its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

"There is nothing good in sanctions and it wasn't an easy decision to take, but we had to do it," Medvedev said.

The ban is valid from August 7 and will last for one year, he said.

Earlier this month, the Panhellenic Exporters Federation (PSE) warned the European Commission against the impact of European sanctions against Russia on Greece's exports.

In a letter sent to the head of the European Commission, PSE chief Christina Sakellaridi called for a political solution that would take into account the interests of the debt-hit country's exporters. She also urged the Commission to consider possible bilateral deals with other non-EU countries that could make up for part of the loses from Russian sanctions.