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Russia's foreign minister departs for Greece for high-profile talks

October 29, 2013, 12:32 UTC+3

Official expected to discuss Russia-EU relations, situation in Syria with Greece

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Photo EPA

Photo EPA

MOSCOW, October 29 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is departing for Greece on Tuesday where he will discuss with the country’s leadership EU-Russia relations and the situation in Syria.

Lavrov plans to hold talks in Athens with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos. He also intends to meet with President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. In addition, Lavrov and Venizelos will speak at the opening of the conference “Ioannis Kapodistrias and modern Russian-Greek relations,” which will be held during the visit within the framework of events dedicated to the 185th anniversary of the inauguration of the first president of Greece.

The purpose of the visit is “to continue the political dialogue with the Greek side on a wide range of bilateral and international issues.” “The sides will have a thorough exchange of views on cooperation between Russia and the European Union, including in the context of the upcoming Greek Presidency in the EU in the first half of 2014,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “They will also discuss the situation in Syria and Egypt, the Iranian nuclear programme, the situation in the Balkan region, etc.”

The positions of Russia and Greece on these issues “are identical or very close.” Both countries “call for enhancing the central role of the UN in international relations as the main universal institution to maintain peace and security.”

The relations between the Russian Federation and the Hellenic Republic, Moscow stated, “are characterised by the traditional atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding, the two countries have maintained political and other contacts at different levels.”

Greece continues to be Russia’s stable partner in the trade and economic sphere. “Despite the serious difficulties experienced by the Greek economy, a stable positive dynamics is observed in this sphere: the bilateral trade turnover has been steadily growing for several years in succession - in 2012 it reached $6.5 billion - the highest figure in the history of bilateral relations, an almost 25 percent increase against 2011, the Foreign Ministry stressed. “Over the first seven months of this year, the bilateral trade volume increased by 4.5 percent year-on-year to $3.5 billion.”

The eighth meeting of the Joint Russian-Greek Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, which was held in Athens on April 12 this year, has given a tangible impetus to the mutual trade and economic cooperation.

There are good prospects for the successful continuation of bilateral energy cooperation. “A number of large Russian companies are interested in taking part in the privatisation processes conducted by the Greek government with a view to improving the situation in the financial and economic sphere,” the ministry said. “Russian- Greek cultural cooperation is steadily developing.”

During the visit, the ministers will adopt a joint statement to hold in 2016 the Year of Russia in Greece and Year of Greece in Russia, “which are to give a powerful impetus to the entire range of bilateral relations.”

Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Athens “will undoubtedly serve further deepening of fruitful cooperation and rapprochement of our countries and peoples,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

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