Scope for more Greek-Russian cooperation in economic sector and military supplies

President Vladimir Putin recently visited Greece. Could you comment on bilateral relations at this stage? What I can say about our bilateral relations is that they are truly at a very high level, as confirmed by the Russian president’s recent visit to your country, as well as by the very intensive contacts at the intergovernmental level. Apart from that, and this is something that I consider very important, our positions on fundamental international problems are either similar or coincide, something that creates objective conditions for developing our cooperation further. As for the content of our cooperation, I should mention certain aspects of that. With regard to energy, over the past 10 years Russia has been supplying Greece with natural gas on the basis of an international accord. Greece is thereby guaranteed an uninterrupted supply of energy resources. Our firms are building a number of energy installations in Greece. There are also major prospects being opened up by the implementation of a plan to build the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline that will make possible a more steady flow of oil to the international market, reduce reliance on transport through the Bosporus and Dardanelles and improve the region’s environmental safety. Our two countries’ total bilateral trade has also increased, reaching over $2.2 billion last year. However, I believe that there is room for a further increase, first of all because of Russia’s purchase of Greek goods, which are widely known for their excellent quality. On October 3, the annual Defendory defense exhibition opens in Piraeus. In your capacity as defense minister, how do you evaluate the level of defense cooperation between Greece and Russia and what are the prospects for the future? The Russian exhibit will be very representative, as at every Defendory. The exhibition is held in Greece, which is one of our traditional partners in the military-technical sector. Greece has bought TOP-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia, the Greek army has also been supplied with a S-300 anti-aircraft rocket system that performs far better than similar missile systems from other countries. Quite recently, our experts completed a link between these two systems and incorporated them into Greece’s unified air defense system. Thus Greece now has one of the most modern air defense systems in the Mediterranean. Russia has also supplied Greece with three Zubr air-cushioned landing craft. Greek military officials have also chosen to buy the Cornet-E anti-tank missile system from Russia. As for prospects in military-technical cooperation, I can assure you that Russia is ready to supply the Greek army with the most up-to-date armaments and equipment. Given the mid-term growth and modernization of the Greek armed forces, we could suggest, among other things, fourth generation Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft, Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 medium range surface-to-air missile systems, M1-17 transport helicopters and BMR-ZF personnel transport amphibian vehicles and BTR-80 and 90 armored personnel transport vehicles. All of these are safe, modern weapons and in fact cheaper than similar weapons systems of other countries. Now it is up to our Greek partners.