Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Greece is of undeniable political significance and has an important economic dimension. The visit could inaugurate an upgrading in relations between the two countries. Putin’s presence here clearly confirms Moscow’s interest in our country and the broader Balkan peninsula where Greece (as a NATO and EU member state) has, in the years after the collapse of Communist regimes, sought a special role without really convincing anyone that it can transcend the level of rhetoric. The Yugoslav crisis in 1999 with NATO’s humanitarian war against Serbia saw a substantial convergence of opinion between Athens and Moscow. But Greece, as always, aligned itself with the decisions of the transatlantic alliance. It is obvious that there is no room for independent Greek initiatives or for joint Greco-Russian action in the international arena as Moscow does not seem willing to intervene in zones of US interest. This, of course, does not undo the importance of Putin’s visit to Athens as Russia, despite the problems that it may be facing, is still the second-largest nuclear and military power after the USA, possessing high technology, rich resources, and top scientists. Above all, Russia has always been an important European power and its leverage in the international arena remains significant… We should not nourish excessive expectations. The operation of afternoon surgeries is expected to decongest out-patients’ departments. But we should not disregard the fact that this is achieved by a partial shift from state-run to private medical care. Morning surgeries will have less work merely because some people will prefer to pay rather than having to queue up. The primary aim, and we should not forget this, is to provide treatment to the entire body of insurees. And this highly difficult task must constantly be kept in mind by Papadopoulos if he wishes to complete his ambitious, albeit necessary reform.

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