Russian FM Sergey Lavrov discusses prospects for cooperation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday underlined his country’s support for Greece’s economic reform efforts and pledged to promote bilateral economic cooperation following talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens which reportedly focused on the energy sector and on Greece’s privatizations portfolio.

“We sympathize with the efforts of your government to overcome some difficulties in the economy,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow was willing to “promote trade and economic cooperation.” Lavrov was short on specifics but, according to sources, the privatization of the railway service operator Trainose and the Thessaloniki Port Authority featured in his talks with government officials.

A request by Athens for a reduction in the price of natural gas supplied by Gazprom was expected to be granted, according to sources.

Bilateral talks were also said to have touched on the issue of the stalled Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project, with the Russians reportedly suggesting that more pressure be put on Bulgaria to back the initiative.

Lavrov mentioned the “long, long friendship” between the two countries along with “mutual respect and spiritual roots,” as well as referring to an increase in Russian tourists visiting Greece this year.