Greek FM to visit Berlin and Moscow

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will visit Berlin Tuesday and Moscow Wednesday to hold talks with his German and Russian counterparts at a time when European governments are concerned that the debt-wracked nation is cozying up to the Kremlin.

Athens officials are seeking to play down Western fears of a geopolitical shift. Foreign Ministry sources told Kathimerini that recent criticism with regard to the new government’s posturing on the Ukraine crisis is unwarranted, saying that it was mostly aimed at putting pressure on Athens amid negotiations for a new deal with its foreign creditors.

Besides the issue of Ukraine, Kotzias is expected to brief German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov on the government’s position regarding a key set of foreign policy issues, mainly Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and stability in the Balkan area.

According to sources, the Greek minister has already complained to the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, as well as other Brussels officials, about the bloc’s alleged leniency on Turkey following its violation of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by the Barbaros research vessel, an incident that prompted Nicosia to suspend UN-brokered reunification talks.

Greek diplomats are also expected to push for greater EU and US involvement in outstanding issues on the Balkan peninsula. Berlin, which has in the past put pressure on Serbia and Kosovo for a deal that would normalize their bilateral relations, has also raised the issue of a solution to the name dispute with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as a condition for regional security.