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Athens will facilitate soonest lift of anti-Russia sanctions — ambassador

February 24, 2016, 15:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the diplomat, trade turnover between Russia and Greece decreased by 36% in 2015

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MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. Any opportunity that allows to create conditions for lifting sanctions from Russia should not be wasted, Greek Ambassador to Moscow Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou told TASS on Wednesday.

"As a diplomatic representative of a member country of the European Union, I want to say that sanctions were extended because the reasons were not eliminated due to which they had been imposed at the start," Koumanakou said.

Greece is not the only country that suffered a significant decline of exports to Russia since the introduction of sanctions, the diplomat said. Trade turnover between Russia and Greece decreased by 36% in 2015.

"European Union’s economy in general felt consequences of falling trade turnover with Russia," the diplomat said. "That is why I think that dialogue between Russia and EU should continue," she added.

"There are spheres in which we cooperate, and any opportunity that can improve the current situation and create conditions for lifting sanctions, should not be wasted," the ambassador said. "As a Greek ambassador, I will contribute to the process to make such conditions appear as soon as possible," she concluded.

Western sanctions, Russian response

The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after a coup in Ukraine in February.

New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled south-east.

Russia responded with imposing on August 6, 2014 a ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, and Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.

Positions of Athens and Moscow similar on many international issues

Relations between Russia and Greece are developing positively, and positions of the two countries are similar on most international issues, Greek Ambassador to Moscow Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou told TASS on Wednesday.

"I can confidently say that today our bilateral relations are developing positively," Koumanakou said. "In 2015 Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Russia twice. In April he came to Moscow with a visit during which he held several meetings at the high level, including with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In June 2015 Tsipras led the Greek delegation to St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and this gave a new impetus to trade and economic cooperation between Greece and Russia," the diplomat added.

"The positions of our countries are the same on most international issues. This cannot not make us happy," she noted. Koumanakou said that developing regional cooperation is an important parameter of expanding Russian-Greek relations. "I think that active cooperation with regions reflects the high level of understanding and trust between the countries, as well as the possibility of direct contacts which we very much need," she went on. "By developing regional cooperation, we will make a significant step forward in Russian-Greek relations," the ambassador concluded.

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