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Greece Strikes Back at Russia Over Diplomats Expulsion Fury

July 20, 2018

ATHENS – After expelling two Russian diplomats accused of trying to undermine a name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece said it won’t sit still if Russia goes ahead with vows to retaliate.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “such things do not remain without consequences” and claimed that third countries were behind Greece’s decision, indicating that Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is aligning himself with NATO to get at Russia.

The anti-nationalist Tsipras – who reneged on promises to take Greece out of NATO – also removed a Greek veto keeping FYROM out of the defense alliance along with agreeing to give away the name of the ancient abutting Greek province of Macedonia to let FYROM be called North Macedonia and have a Macedonian language and identity.

Greece said the Russian diplomats tried to prevent with bribes to Greek groups and the Church and fund protesters.

The name deal was brokered with the help of United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz, an American lawyer who had tried for two decades to find a solution and resumed talks this year after a three-year break amid speculation it was done under American pressure to get FYROM into NATO as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans.
Athens’s decision.

Greece, said Zakharova, should “communicate with their Russian partners, and not suffer from dirty provocations, into which, unfortunately, Athens was dragged.”

The Greek Foreign Ministry said her statements “are a characteristic example of disrespect for a third country and a lack of understanding of today’s world, in which states, regardless of their size, are independent and can exercise an independent, multidimensional and democratic foreign policy.”

“Unsubstantiated claims to the effect that this decision was taken following pressure from third parties are unworthy of comment and indicate a mindset of people who do not understand the principles and values of Greek foreign policy,” it said.

The brouhaha led to Russia cancelling a planned visit to Greece by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Embassy in Athens said, according to the TASS news agency.

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