Putin completes historic visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the monastic community of Mount Athos yesterday, the first Russian head of state ever to visit the spiritual sanctuary. «I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to visit the Holy Mountain,» Putin said after arriving at the 1,000-year-old community in northern Greece. It was Putin’s third attempt at visiting the area after his previous two efforts were called off due to bad weather and the Beslan terrorist attack. Putin arrived in Thessaloniki late on Thursday and met up with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The two leaders talked about issues including the creation of a pipeline joining the two nations and Cyprus. A planned pipeline will carry Russian oil from Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Burgas to the northern Greek port of Alexandroupolis. Greece also imports natural gas from Russia. On the diplomatic front, Putin said Russia and Greece will coordinate many of their policies. «Our positions are very close on many issues, like the Balkans and resolving the Cyprus problem,» Putin said.