Moscow expects progress from Tsipras visit

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s planned visit to Moscow on April 8 will be a “big event” in the course of relations between Greece and Russia, according to the Russian ambassador in Athens, Andrey Maslov, who told Sunday’s Kathimerini that his government would examine any request from the SYRIZA-led coalition for a loan.

“The new Greek government is aiming to strengthen Greek-Russian ties,” said Maslov. “Russia is prepared to progress in this direction,” he added, referring to recent meetings between officials from the two countries, including foreign ministers Nikos Kotzias and Sergey Lavrov, who met in Moscow on February 11.

“We are certain that the Greek prime minister’s working visit to Moscow will be a big event for our bilateral relations,” said Maslov. “The possibility of further cooperation in trade, energy, technical military issues, education and culture will be examined.”

Maslov said that any request from Athens for a loan would have to be “examined very carefully” because of Greece’s euro membership. “If the Greek government submits a request for a loan, it will be examined – as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting his counterpart Nikos Kotzias and as Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has said,” the Russian ambassador told Kathimerini.

Maslov played down the possibility of Moscow lifting the embargo on food imports from Greece or other European Union countries as long as the EU keeps its sanctions on Russia in place. However, the ambassador praised Athens for helping prevent a rift in the EU’s relations with Russia.

“We are grateful for Greece’s efforts in helping ease the tension in relations between Russia and the EU, which is mainly due to the sanctions,” he said. “The stance of our Greek partners and other EU member-states during the council of foreign ministers in January and at the EU leaders’ summit in February prevented the hawks… from creating a permanent rift in Russia-EU relations.”

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