Greece is expected to officially respond Wednesday to Russia’s decision to expel two Greek Embassy staff and bar the director of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’s political bureau, Giorgos Sakellariou, from entering the country, in a retaliatory move over a decision by Athens to expel two Russian envoys in July.
Aiming to avoid stoking tensions further, Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos expressed hope Tuesday that the two countries will overcome the current crisis, reiterating that Russia is a friendly country with which Greece has very good historical relations.
“Our strategy remains pursuing a multidimensional foreign policy, and if the other side seeks it, I believe we could return to the best possible level of diplomatic relations,” he told 24/7 radio station.
Katrougalos defended the expulsion of the Russian diplomats, saying they were a reaction “against an act we believe affected our national interests and sovereignty.”
In July, Athens expelled two diplomats based at the Russian Embassy in the Greek capital and barred two more from entering the country after evidence showed they tried to foment opposition to a name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which opened the path to the Balkan state’s European Union and NATO membership.
The Greek minister said the retaliatory moves by Moscow are not justified as there was no misconduct on the side of the Greek diplomats.
Speaking to Kathimerini on condition of anonymity on Monday, diplomatic sources described the Russian response as “asymmetric.”