Greece repeats hard line on Russia


Greece is “fully determined” to ratify its agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to change the latter’s name, Costas Douzinas, a member of ruling SYRIZA and head of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations, has told Bloomberg.

“If the Russians continue to attempt to derail it, the reaction will be strong,” Douzinas said in an article published on Saturday titled “Putin’s waning clout in European backyard exposed by Greek spat” and referring to Greece’s decision to expel two Russian diplomats over alleged attempts to undermine the agreement with FYROM.

The article also quotes a spokesman for SYRIZA’s coalition partner, the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL), which it describes as “pro-Russian,” accusing Moscow of meddling even though ANEL opposes the accord.

ANEL’s vice president Panos Sgouridis refers to “first-hand information that there was Russian interference in Greek matters,” adding, “It’s crucial that Greece’s national sovereignty is protected.”

NATO’s efforts to broaden its influence in the Balkan region is problematic for Moscow, as experts confirm in the Bloomberg report.

“NATO membership of course is bad for us,” said Leonid Reshetnikov, a former head of Russian foreign intelligence who also served as an agent in Greece and the Balkans.

“What can we do? They are clearing this territory” of rival influences, he said.

FYROM plans to hold a referendum on September 30 on the deal it agreed to with Greece to change its name to North Macedonia.