ATHENS — Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, speaking during a visit to Gelendzhik in Russia on Tuesday at the Greek Cultural Centre of the Russian city, said the city acted as a bridge between Greece and Russia. Situated on Russia's Black Sea coast, the city and the area has a long Greek presence.
"I am coming here today, 30 years after another important visit here, that of the then prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis. I come on behalf of his son, today's prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to tell you in his own words that Greece is at your side and is grateful because you have kept alive its memory here," Dendias said.
Dendias said the city was a bridge that links Greece and Russia on three levels. The first dated back 2,500 years when the first settlers from Megara and Athens came to the region. The second was when the saints Cyril and Methodius brought the alphabet to the region and became the foundation of Christianity in Russia. The third level were the Pontic Greeks, some of whom fled to this region after Pontic Greek Genocide and settled in the hospitable Russian lands.
Dendias said he was "surprised by the dynamism of the Greek element," noting that in his meeting with the mayor they decided to attempt a follow-up visit by the minister before the end of the year, in which Greece celebrates the bicentennial of its revolt against Ottoman rule and the foundation of the modern Greek state, because "we do not want another 30 years to pass".