From the printed version
To Michalis Psylos
The forthcoming meeting of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi “will take place in a positive, constructive atmosphere,” said Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrei Maslov in an interview with Naftemporiki. “Our relations are developing very positively.
“Greece is an important partner of Russia in our common European continent,” said the ambassador of the Russian Federation, who even welcomed us at the historic building of the Russian embassy in Herod Atticus and spoke to “N” on the eve of the official visit of the Greek Prime Minister to Russia. . .
In fluent Greek, Mr. Maslov, who has been in Greece for seven and a half years as head of the Moscow diplomatic mission in Athens, emphasizes with “N” that “not even the pandemic” froze “the political dialogue between the two countries, which is intensive and substantive “.
Asked about the course of bilateral economic relations, he stressed that “after last year’s decline due to pandemic restrictions, in the first nine months of 2021 bilateral trade increased dramatically – by 56%. “Tourism exchanges are gradually recovering, while the Russians are carrying out two major investment projects in the field of tourism infrastructure worth about 600 million euros.”
The discussion – in the excellent four-course meal given to us by the Russian ambassador – also focused on Turkey’s stance in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Mr. Maslov reiterated Moscow’s clear view expressed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that “every state has the right to determine the extent of its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. “And when the issue of demarcation of the coastal zone between neighboring countries arises, this must be resolved through bilateral negotiations in accordance with international law.” Regarding the Cyprus issue, the Russian ambassador stressed that Moscow categorically rejects Turkey’s position on “two states”. Mr Maslov emphasized: “We do not support the idea of unilaterally changing the existing basis of the negotiations, of revising the model of the settlement. “Russia is in favor of finding a just, viable and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN Security Council Resolutions, which provide for the creation of a Bi-zonal Bicommunal Federation in Cyprus with a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty and a single sovereignty.”
The full interview of the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Andrei Maslov to “Naftemporiki” is as follows:
Ambassador, Greek-Russian bilateral relations will be the focus of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ official visit to Sochi on December 8. In fact, at a time when our region and the whole world are facing serious challenges. How do you assess the climate in Moscow-Athens relations?
“Our relations are developing very positively. Greece is an important partner of Russia in our common European continent. The pandemic did not “freeze” the political dialogue either, which is intensive and substantial. This year’s program was very rich. In March, Prime Minister Mikhail Misustin represented Russia at celebrations in Athens marking the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution. In October, the Speaker of the Russian Parliament Valentina Matvienko visited Athens, where she had a very productive meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament Konstantinos Tassoulas.
Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Nikos Dendias have had four live meetings and numerous telephone conversations since July 2019. Indicative of the friendly atmosphere in our relations was the mission in August by order of President Vladimir Putin of two Il-76 firefighting aircraft and two Mi-8 helicopters with about sixty pilots and technicians who remained here for three whole weeks and operated almost daily.
That is why, I would say, the meeting will take place in a positive, constructive atmosphere, which was prepared with the great events of the coming year “.
In view of the Greek Prime Minister’s visit, the 13th Greece-Russia Joint Interministerial Committee met in Moscow after a long period due to the pandemic. The two sides stressed the need to further develop economic relations. What is the current state of bilateral economic relations?
“We are satisfied with the course of economic relations with Greece. After last year’s decline due to pandemic restrictions, in the first nine months of 2021 bilateral trade increased dramatically – by 56%. Tourist exchanges are gradually recovering. This year, 180 thousand Russian tourists visited Greece, while in 2021 it was only 20 thousand.
The recent 13th meeting of the Joint Russian-Greek Interministerial Committee on Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technical Cooperation reaffirmed the mutual will to expand our partnership. A package of bilateral agreements was signed. The interest of Russian companies and public bodies for participation in joint projects in many sectors, such as transport, renewable energy, innovations, was noted.
The meeting was an important step in the preparation of the Summit “.
In terms of investment, what is the situation? Are there any new Russian investment plans in Greece?
“Investment is an industry that we have been focusing on lately. As an example, I can tell you that Russian businessmen are implementing two large investment projects of a strategic nature in the field of tourism infrastructure worth about 0.6 billion. euro. This is the construction of hotel complexes in Crete and Scorpio. There are serious investments in the agricultural sector, etc. “But the potential is much greater and the prospects are encouraging.”
According to information, Greece wants to have natural gas from Russia on more competitive terms, starting in 2022 and preliminary contacts between DEPA and Gazprom have already begun. Do you think, Ambassador, that the agreement will be finalized?
“Energy is at the heart of our economic relations. Russia is a reliable supplier of gas. This year marks 25 years since the start of Russian gas imports to Greece. The basis of this cooperation is Gazprom’s long-term contract with DEPA. It was signed in 1988 and remains in force. In 2020, a long-term contract was signed with the company Mytilineos SA.
In times of energy crisis, Gazprom not only fully fulfills its contractual obligations, but also does more. Last year, Russian gas supplies to Greece increased by 25%, while this year they have exceeded last year’s level in volume.
“I know that both sides are satisfied with the cooperation in the gas sector, which has good prospects.”
Honorable Ambassador, the visit of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov to Athens in October 2020, “was an important step towards the common goal of the resumption of Greek-Russian relations”, as Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias had stressed in Parliament. Mr. Lavrov with a clear position “dispelled a historical myth” – as Mr. Dendias said – after the Russian Foreign Minister “confirmed the self-evident right under international law of Greece to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles in Aegean”. Who was Lavrov’s message addressed to?
“I think that Russia’s position, as expressed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, when asked about the tension in the region, was clear. Our country has signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We rely on its rules. In particular, Article 3 of the Convention provides that each State has the right to determine the extent of its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles. “And when the issue of demarcation of the coastal zone between neighboring countries arises, this must be resolved through bilateral negotiations in accordance with international law.”
Russia strongly supports the need for dialogue and respect for the principles of international law and the law of the sea. However, these values are being challenged in practice by Turkey, taking unilateral and provocative actions. How do you comment on them?
“In general, we firmly believe in the need to resolve any differences in international relations exclusively through political-diplomatic, peaceful means, confidence-building measures, the search for mutually acceptable solutions and with full respect for international law, including the Convention on Human Rights. provisions of the UN Charter. “But it is not easy to find a compromise, it is the only way forward.”
Especially in the Cyprus issue, Russia has repeatedly supported the implementation of the UN and the principles of International Law. But Ankara now speaks only of “two states” in Cyprus. What is your position?
“Russia is in favor of finding a just, viable and universal solution to the Cyprus problem within the parameters of the UN Security Council Resolutions, which provide for the creation in Cyprus of a Bi-zonal Bicommunal Federation with a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty and a single sovereignty. We do not support the idea of unilaterally changing the existing basis of negotiations, of revising the model of the settlement. “But the most basic thing is the solution of the Cyprus problem to be on the negotiating table from both sides without the imposition of artificial schedules and outside interventions.”
Mr. Ambassador, there is a historical, timeless peculiarity in the relations between Greece and Russia. A relationship that was emphasized on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the role of Russia in favor of the Greek rebels. How do you see this relationship being renewed and strengthened?
“Russia, in the opinion of many Greek and Russian scientists, played a decisive role in the liberation of Greece. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, the 200th anniversary of the Greek liberation struggle is our common holiday. It is symbolic that in 2021 the joint Year of Russia-Greece History is held under the auspices of the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Greece. The program includes countless initiatives in both countries and lasts until the summer of 2022. The recent mission to the Aegean islands of the replica of the frigate of Emperor Peter the Great had a great positive response. He followed the route of the First Archipelago Campaign of the Russian fleet in the context of the Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774. We are convinced that the Year will bring our countries even closer. We recall brilliant historical pages of solidarity of our peoples in difficult times. We rely on this solid foundation in our efforts to strengthen Russian-Greek cooperation. ”
thank you very much