Russian FM calls for speedy reduction of East Med tension

Russian FM calls for speedy reduction of East Med tension

Turkey is an “international troublemaker” stirring problems and undermining peace in sensitive parts of the world, while dressed “in a religious mantle,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday, ahead of a meeting in Athens with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“I believe that it is in our common interest to check such provocative behaviors and to remind the party acting them out that there are limits,” he said.

Mitsotakis welcomed earlier comments made by Lavrov during a meeting with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, in which the Russian official said that every state has the sovereign right to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, as stipulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which Russia is a signatory.

The Greek prime minister also indicated Athens’ desire to expand bilateral relations with Russia, saying that next year’s 200th anniversary from the start of the Greek War of Independence – in which Russia played an important role – and the naming of 2021 as “Greek and Russian History Year” is an opportunity to “remember those moments when we acted together in the past,” and build those that will “accompany us in the future.”

Lavrov, for his part, stressed that Greece’s membership of the European Union and NATO should not act as an obstacle in strengthening relations with Russia, while adding that Brussels and the alliance should “not stand in the way” of this.

Referring to his earlier discussions with Dendias and fraught relations between Greece and Turkey over the Eastern Mediterranean, the Russian foreign minister stressed the need for “the fastest possible de-escalation of the tension that has built up in the region, so that the two countries can go ahead and settle their differences – and there are a lot of them – in the region, though dialogue.”

Lavrov said that overlapping interests need to be settled bilaterally through dialogue, while adding that Moscow is prepared to “contribute to the normalization of the situation” if such an interest is expressed by the two sides.

“We have a good, steady relationship with the countries in the area,” he said.

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