Greece mulls compensation for farmers hurt by Russian embargo

Greek farmers are likely to be compensated for any losses they suffer as a result of a Russian embargo on imports from the European Union, the government has indicated.

“Greek producers will have the state’s full support,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Saturday as it sought to play down the impact of the temporary ban by Russian authorities.

“The Russian market is a very important destination for fresh Greek agricultural products but the turnover in terms of number is limited and can be dealt with on a national and European level,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi said the coalition is heeding farmers' calls for compensation.

"The farmers are absolutely right: Their crops are being left unsold," she told Mega TV on Monday. "Whatever happens, they will be compensated - either with national or European funds."

Moscow imposed last week a one-year ban on all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the 28 EU countries, Canada, Australia and non-EU member Norway. Russia is by far the biggest consumer of EU fruit and vegetables and a major global consumer of fish, meat and dairy products.

In 2013 Greek exports to Russia were worth a total of 178 million euros. However, they have already suffered a dip this year. According to the Panhellenic Exporters Association, the value of Greek exports to Russia was down 23.9 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2013, falling from 82.9 million euros to 63 million.

The Foreign Ministry also dismissed criticism from within Greece of the government’s decision to back sanctions against Russia, which triggered the embargo on imports last week.

“Our country, as a member state of the European Union, takes part in the forming and implementation of collective European decisions while taking into account a host of parameters and having as its only criteria the overall and long-term safeguarding of national interests,” said the ministry.

Voultepsi accused opposition parties critical of the government's foreign policy of adopting an "anti-European" approach.

"You cannot base your foreign policy on peaches," said Voultepsi. "There is a big difference between compensating farmers and changing your alliances."