Greece keen to keep bilateral ties on even keel, Tsipras says in Moscow

TAGS: Diplomacy, Politics

Athens wants to mend the damage caused to ties with Moscow in the summer, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Friday.

“Dialogue is not always easy. However, our desire for [bilateral] ties to stay on the steady tracks that we built after 2015 helps us overcome any difficulties,” Tsipras said during a joint press conference.

In July, Athens expelled two Russian diplomats claiming that they had sought to undermine Greece’s name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and meddle in domestic affairs. Moscow responded in kind by expelling Greek envoys.

“The case is closed, we are looking ahead,” Tsipras said.

The two leaders held a constructive meeting, Tsipras said, adding he believed it would help strengthen cooperation between the two countries. He said the two sides had agreed to promote Greek exports to Russia, with emphasis on the agro-food sector.

The Geek premier added that talks also centered on energy and security developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region where Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research. He also expressed his appreciation for Moscow’s steady position regarding the Cyprus issue.

Meanwhile, Tsipras said he had expressed his concern over Turkey buying weapons from Russia. Ankara has purchased S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia in a deal that has unnerved Washington and Turkey's NATO allies.

Greece’s name deal with FYROM was also discussed, Tsipras said, describing the so-called Prespes accord as a “fair basis” for solving a chronic problem. He said he was confident that the deal would help keep nationalist forces at bay.

Russian gas

In the same press conference, Putin said that Moscow would consider the possibility of inviting Greek companies to join projects for the delivery of Russian gas to European countries.

“We are ready to consider the possibility of inviting Greek companies to join major infrastructure projects for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe via the southern route,” Putin said.