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Tsipras: New Page in Greek-Russian Relations

“The ties between Greece and Russia can be upgraded to a new level and Greece can become a bridge between the West and Russia,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told TASS news agency, ahead of his upcoming visit to Moscow and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin on April 8.
“We can have a substantial cooperation that will allow Greece to export its agricultural goods to the Russian Federation,” Tsipras stressed. “You know that over the past years these relations received a blow as the previous governments in my country had not done what they could have done to avoid this senseless, in my opinion, sanctions policy, amid tensions in Ukraine,” he said. “The result of this is the embargo also on Greek agricultural goods which has seriously damaged the Greek economy,” Tsipras said.
The Greek Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow aims at restarting Greek-Russian relations as “it will give the opportunity to set a new basis.” According to Tsipras, Greek-Russian relations have great development prospects, especially in energy and tourism. He said that apart from the highly significant meetings with President Putin, his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Kirill, “I will also have the opportunity to give a lecture in one of the central universities in Moscow” that highlights “the possibility for exchanges and cooperation on an educational level between Greek and Russian universities, which is also a very important aspect of consolidating our mutual relations.”
Referring to the issue of sanctions, he made clear that Greece does not back the West’s sanctions against Russia and reminded that as soon as he took office, he received a message from European Council President Donald Tusk “who almost took for granted Greece’s position in favor of sanctions. “I called him as well as (EU foreign policy chief) Federica Mogherini and told them: Don’t think that Greece’s position is pretty much a given, the situation has changed and now there is another government in Greece. And now you should ask us before you take the decisions,” he said.
“We do not agree with the sanctions. I believe that this is a road to nowhere. I support the point of view that there is a need for dialogue and diplomacy, we should sit down at the negotiating table and find the solutions to major problems,” he said. The Greek Premier stressed that the economic war is a “dead-end policy.” “I’m for diplomacy. I believe reaching the Minsk agreements is an important achievement. I think every effort should be made to stop tensions in Ukraine,” he added.
Tsipras said that during his first participation in the EU summit on March 19-20 in Brussels, he asked Prime Ministers and heads of states: “Tell me, how do you imagine the new security architecture in Europe? Do you see it with Russia on the opposite side or with Russia in the process of a dialogue and mutual understanding?” “I received no answer from many of them,” Tsipras said. “In my understanding, the answer is clear: The new European security architecture should also include Russia.”
Greek energy minister meets with Russian counterpart and Gazprom CEO in Moscow 
Greek Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis had a meeting on Monday with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller in Moscow and discussed energy relations between the two countries.
The two sides expressed the will to “open a new page” in the energy field cooperation. The Russian Minister stated he was given the authority by President Putin to discuss the issue ahead of the meeting between the Russian leader and Greek PM Tsipras on April 8.
Lafazanis noted that the new energy policy will have national interest as a priority. He also said that the new policy will benefit both countries and establish stability and security in Europe.
Before the meeting with his Russian counterpart, the Greek Minister met with Gazprom CEO Miller and discussed the supply of natural gas to Greece. Miller expressed his concern over Greece’s decreasing demand but expressed his understanding due to the Greek economic crisis.
On the issue of the so-called “Turkish pipeline”, Miller said that since “the European Commission did everything in its power to stop the SouthStream pipeline,” and if the European Union does not create its own infrastructure up to the Greek-Turkish border, then 47 billion metric tons of natural gas will be available in the open market on the border with Greece.
Upon its completion, the new pipeline will carry 63 billion metric tons, 16 of which will be available in Turkey and the rest will be channeled either to Europe or the free market, Miller said.

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