Russian, Greek foreign ministers eye closer ties

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday for talks described by the latter as “successful, honest and constructive.”

Lavrov said the pair “discussed Greece’s financials” and that Russia “will consider any proposals it may receive” from Athens, though no such request was submitted by the Greek side, sources said. The two diplomats agreed there is ample scope for boosting bilateral ties on many levels, diplomatic sources indicated, but that in view of the current pressures faced by both countries, cooperation would be scaled up gradually. Lavrov expressed his gratitude for Greece’s position on the “futility” of anti-Russian sanctions. Kotzias repeated that the Greek government line was against sanctions but gave no indication that Athens would differentiate its stance from that of its European partners as tough negotiations on Greece’s bailout are under way.

Meanwhile Defense Minister Panos Kammenos clarified the Athens’s stance on another key foreign policy issue – Cyprus. On a visit to Nicosia, Kammenos described the presence of the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros off Cyprus as “a blatant provocation.” Meanwhile Ankara is said to have dispatched the frigate Gelibolu into Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone, where Cypriot authorities have a license to drill for hydrocarbons. After talks with his Cypriot peer Christoforos Fokaidis, Kammenos said the Cyprus problem remained “a problem of invasion and occupation.”