The timing of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov‘s planned visit to Greece this autumn is no longer suitable, Russia’s ambassador to Athens said on Thursday, the TASS news agency reported.
Greece last month invited Lavrov to visit in September, but relations have since become strained over the diplomatic row over Athens’ decision to expel two Russian diplomats and bar two other people from entering the country.
Athens alleges that the diplomats were trying to bribe officials and foment demonstrations to thwart a deal to allow FYROM to join NATO.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova alleged Wednesday that Greece, a NATO member since 1952, had acted under pressure from its military allies.
“We are fully aware that Greece was subjected to pressure at the highest level,” Zakharova told reporters.
She called the expulsions “crude and unjustified” and said they “will not remain without consequences,” but did not elaborate.
Zakharova’s remarks prompted an angry response from the Greek Foreign Ministry.
“The constant disrespect for Greece must stop. No one can or has the right to interfere in Greece’s domestic affairs,” the ministry said.
“The Russian authorities themselves are very well aware of what their people do,” the statement continued. “The evidence based on which Greece acted was presented to the Russian authorities in a timely manner.”