The aides of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Greek and Russian embassies in Moscow and Athens, are feverishly preparing for a scheduled visit by Tsipras to the Russian capital on April 8 and 9 which the Greek government hopes will serve to significantly upgrade bilateral ties.
According to a well-informed source, Tsipras is expected to seek agreement for a “road map” of initiatives on the political and economic levels.
Talks are expected to touch on several topics of bilateral interest, including “commercial and financial cooperation, investments, energy, tourism and cooperation in matters of education and culture,” according to Tsipras’s office. Other topics on the agenda include “the relationship between Russia and the European Union, as well as regional and international issues.”
Tsipras is expected to emphasize Greece’s respect for its commitments as a member of the European Union and NATO on the one hand while underlining his conviction that the European Union’s “security architecture” should include Russia. Amid European concerns about Greece’s position vis-a-vis EU sanctions against Russia, Greek officials have sought to offer reassurances, suggesting that Athens will not actively oppose the EU line. But sources close to Tsipras said the government will continue to express its disagreement with sanctions as a policy.
As for a likely bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, a high-ranking government source told Kathimerini that Greece “will reassure the Russians, not the Westerners.” According to sources, Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis has already agreed in principle to a proposal made by the head of Russian giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, for a new gas pipeline through Turkey to be extended through Greek territory. The plan foresees the creation of a consortium in which Greece’s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) would play a key role along with Russian funds and possibly also European clients of Gazprom, Kathimerini understands.