Turkish aggression and Greek-Russian bilateral relations were the key points of a meeting held by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with visiting Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the Maximos Mansion on Monday.
The meeting is taking place at a difficult time, Mitsotakis said, when “Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, South Caucasus and the greater region as a whole challenges international stability.”
He briefed Lavrov on actions by Turkey which “undermines peace in several sensitive points on the map” and said he was concerned that “Turkey wraps this aggressiveness in a religious mantle, creating a visible threat to the peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions.” Greece respects international law and the rules of good neighborhood, the premier noted, and he welcomed Lavrov’s statement in Athens that extending territorial waters to 12 nautical miles is an inalienable right of every country.
The premier further noted that Greece is a member of NATO, “but this does not prevent us, Mr. Minister, from expanding our bilateral relations with Russia,” especially in the upcoming 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution for Independence.
Mitsotakis said that he had extended a personal invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prince Charles to visit Greece on March 25, 2021 to attend the events as representatives of three countries that played a decisive role in the Greek War for Independence. In addition, 2021 is the “Greek-Russian History Year”, and the double celebration will remind both countries of their shared history and their future opportunities, he said.
Lavrov concurred that the meeting confirmed that Greece’s membership in the European Union and NATO did not prevent the development of Greek-Russian relations, noting however that “it would, of course, be desirable that the EU and NATO do not obstruct us from developing these relations.”
He referred to the joint memorandum signed with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, who attended the meeting with the premier, and said that the anniversary events would be of interest to the wider public of both countries. Lavrov also supported the de-escalation of tension in the region and direct dialogue for the resolution of problems in the region. Russia, he said, is willing to contribute to such direct dialogue.
In terms of the use of religion in geopolitical games, he called for caution and said that Russia had been promoting initiatives to fight prejudice against the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions and recognize them as condemnable acts, and would continue to do so.