Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Athens, October 26, 2020
Esteemed Mr Prime Minister,
Thank you for this opportunity to meet during our visit to Greece. We very much value Russian-Greek relations, which are rooted in the distant past and the historical and spiritual affinity between our people. We enthusiastically support your celebrations, next year, of the bicentenary of the beginning of your struggle for independence.
Today, Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Dendias and I signed a joint memorandum that confirmed your agreement with President of Russia Vladimir Putin to hold a Russia-Greece Cross Year of History in 2021. The two countries have an impressive plan of events, which, I am sure, will be of interest not only for historians and archaeologists but also for our people in general.
Today, we discussed in detail the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and this very important geopolitical region as a whole. We agree on the need to reduce tensions and move on to settling the numerous problems through talks between the directly interested parties as soon as possible. This also applies to the issues regulated by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, including those where the neighbouring states’ rights interfere which requires, under this convention, a negotiated settlement through direct dialogue.
Russia is located in the near vicinity of the Eastern Mediterranean. We have sustainable and positive ties with these countries and will be ready to do all we can to facilitate normalisation there if our regional partners have the will and interest in this.
I fully agree with you that attempts to play the religious card in a geopolitical game are very dangerous. For many years, we have promoted the initiative within the OSCE to recognise not only anti-Semitism, but also Christianophobia and Islamophobia as utterly dangerous. We have absolutely identical positions with Greece on this issue. We will promote this in the Council of Europe as well. Greece now chairs the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. We are pleased to see that Greece is promoting common European values, including education, culture and support for youth organisations.
Today’s talks have confirmed once again that Greece’s membership in the EU and NATO does not impede the development of relations with the Russian Federation in any way. It would be helpful if the EU and NATO did not prevent us from developing ties with Greece, as well.