OPINION

Russian overtures

The recent overtures to Ankara by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the risk of a special relationship blossoming between Russia and Turkey, the impressive improvement in bilateral economic ties, and Moscow’s stance on Cyprus – including its support for lifting the embargo on the island’s Turkish-held north – are matters that the Greek government can no longer afford to ignore. Russia may not be a part of the Western «system» but it is nevertheless a powerful country with a major influence on the world stage. Moreover, as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia’s support over the Cyprus issue has been a crucial advantage to Greece for a long time. So, Putin’s declaration that he wants to boost Russia’s economic ties with northern Cyprus constitutes a very significant political about-turn. In just over a month, Putin visited Ankara and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a return visit to Moscow. Meanwhile, Moscow made it clear that it backed the construction of an oil pipeline from Burgas to the Albanian port of Avlona, although it did not sign an agreement to start work on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, a project it had already approved in principle. There is no doubt that something is very wrong with Greek-Russian relations, and if Athens fails to take immediate action, then Moscow’s interest in Turkey will be consolidated and will become even harder to reverse…