Foreign policy and business cooperation will be at the center of talks between Greek officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expected in Greece for what authorities in Moscow have described as a two-day “working visit” this week.
Nine years after his last official visit, the Russian leader, who is expected to meet with leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras before a dinner with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Friday, will be accompanied by several ministers and a delegation of business leaders whose companies are currently operating in, or are interested in entering, the local market. These reportedly include Gazprom chairman Alexey Miller and Russian Railways CEO Oleg Belozerov.
High on the business agenda is the promotion of a new conduit for the transmission of Russian natural gas via Bulgaria and Greece, including the utilization of the plan for the Interconnector Greece-Italy (IGI) pipeline. Talks between Russian, Greek and Italian officials have been scheduled for tomorrow, ahead of Putin’s visit.
Russian companies have also shown interest in investing in Public Power Corporation (PPC) and, as underscored by the expected presence of Belozerov, Trainose.
Geopolitical concerns are also at play. A cross-cultural series of exchanges are taking place between the two countries through 2016, which has been designated as the Year of Greece in Russia, Russia in Greece. This year also marks the millennial anniversary of the first Russian settlement in the monastic community of Mount Athos, in northern Greece. Putin is expected to visit Aghios Panteleimonas, an eastern Orthodox monastery also known as “the Russian monastery” (Rossikon), on Saturday. According to sources, he will be accompanied by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.
According to sources, the two states are likely to sign a political declaration on safeguarding peace and friendship between the people in the broader region. Greece’s unreserved adoption of a recent decision by NATO powers to engage in a massive buildup on Russia’s borders is said to have caused some disappointment in Moscow.