There is a significant historical foundation to Greek-Russian relations “that has allowed us to build a stable but also dynamic relationship over the centuries,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, in joint statements with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin.
“The occasion for my visit is the 190th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, which are based on strong historical, religious, cultural and intellectual ties between our people,” Tsipras said.
“I consider that this significant historical foundation has allowed us to build a stable but also dynamic relationship through the centuries, which, in its turn, made it possible for us to continue conversing and cooperating with each other even when geopolitcal developments kept us apart,” Tsipras added.
Tsipras referred to his visit to Moscow in 2015, at a difficult time for Greece, and after five years of stagnation, as he said, noting that they had then agreed to rebuild the constructive relation between Greece and Russia.
The Greek prime minister noted that “Greece is an EU state-member and a member of NATO and meets its commitments but believes that any European security architecture or initiative for resolving important international challenges must include Russia and be based on a sincere dialogue with [Russia]”.
“Greek-Russian dialogue was not always easy, as was proved in the summer. However, our desire that our relations should remain on the firm tracks that we built with hard work since 2015 helps us to overcome the difficulties and return to the essential mutual respect and mutual understanding,” said Tsipras.
Putin said that the visit by Tsipras to Russia was especially timely, during the joint statements after their meeting on Friday in Moscow.
“Many prospects unite us,” said President Putin.
He underlined the emphasis that both countries place on investments and the trade sector, while again noting that the current year was the 190th anniversary since Greece and Russia first established diplomatic relations.
Talking in numbers, Putin noted that last year bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 27 percent, reaching 3.7 billion dollars and afterwards referred to other sectors on which Russian interest is focused, namely energy, culture and tourism.
Especially for tourism, the Russian president referred to the record number of Russians that visited Greece last year, noting that this number was expected to reach 1 million tourists this year.
The first question to the two leaders was put by Greek public broadcaster ERT, concerning the post-programme period in Greece. Putin expressed a wish that the Greek people will soon get past the difficulties they are facing and congratulated the Greek prime minister for having, as he put it, a progressive outlook concerning growth in Greece.
The second question was asked by a Russian journalist, and it concerned the Russian diplomats’ deportation. Putin said that this page was now closed. “From the beginning, we did not agree on the subject of deportations,” he said, adding that various rumours alluding to a conspiracy against Greece were nonsense.