MOSCOW — Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias expressed the hope that it will be possible to schedule the visit of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visit to Russia within 2021 to promote bilateral relations, during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
"Russia has repeatedly supported the unalienable right to expand our territorial waters, and the fact that all differences must be resolved on the basis of the International Law of the Sea, something that the minister reiterated during our talks today," Dendias said. He also expressed his appreciation for "the Russian commitment to the resolutions of the UN Security Council concerning the Cyprus issue."
Dendias also expressed his concern that "Turkey is promoting itself as the heir of the Ottoman heritage, and as the leader of Muslims globally, a practice that destabilizes the wider region." In this regard, "Russia's contribution to promoting stability, especially as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the Quartet, is of massive significance," he added.
The Greek miniser also said he had a "sincere and open" discussion on the difficult relationship of the European Union and Russia, and that he remembers the partnership agreement signed between them 27 years ago on Corfu, his place of origin, long before he was involved in politics. "It is the Greek government's wish that the relationship between the EU and Russia returns to the level it was, not get worse," he said, as "Russia is an inaleniable part of the safety architecture of Europe and plays a significant role in dealing with regional and international challenges." Greece is an EU member state and committed to its European obligations but continues to stress the need for dialogue and mutual respect, a message that the premier of Greece will convey to his EU counterparts on Tuesday, he added.
On his part, Russian FM Lavrov said this was the fourth meeting between the two, and said the regular contacts helped guarantee and confirm the friendly relations between the two countries.
"Greece is one of the most significant partners of the Russian Federation in Europe," he said, noting Greece's 200th anniversary this year of its declaration of independence as "our joint celebration". Russia contributed in key ways to Greece's independence from the Ottoman Turks and to its formation as a state, he added. Despite the difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic, Greek-Russian collaboration keeps developing steadily with constructive dialogue at high and the highest levels.
"Today we reviewed progress in the implementation of agreements signed by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well as the decisions discussed during the meeting of Russian Federation Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin with Kyriakos Mitsotakis on March 24 and their follow-up phone conversation on May 5," Lavrov said, referring to the Russian PM's visit to Greece for the celebrations of Greek Independence.
Lavrov reiterated Russia's position on the Cyprus issues, of seeking a solution on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions for a bicommunal and bizonal federation, and that of transferring the issues of security guarantees to the jurisdiction of the Council's five permanent members. He also conveyed Russia's willingness to serve as mediators on the issue.
Russian-EU relations are "not going through the best of times," the Russian FM acknowledged, and he underlined that it was not Russia's initiative to start the cycle of sanctions imposed by Brussels. "We confirmed our readiness for constructive dialogue with the EU, but based exclusively on the principles of equality, mutual respect and evaluation of each other's interest, not based on unilateral illegal demands," he clarified, adding that clashes and tension in the Balkans, the Middle East, East Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and Transcaucasia "can be resolved solely by political and diplomatic means on the principles of International Law, without allowing confrontation."
Lavrov also mentioned among others the cultural and humanitarian exchanges developing positively and said the Joint History Year declared between the two countries for 2021 under Putin and Mitsotakis will provide further impetus to contacts between the two peoples.
"We are very happy with the results of the talks and the fact that our Greek partners are willing to promote further the bilateral collaboration in several sectors," the Russian FM said.