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ATHENS, April 6. /TASS/. Russia should maintain normal relations with the European Union, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in an exclusive interview granted to TASS First Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman.
"Russia has very many allies inside the European Union," Pavlopoulos said. "Greece has traditionally seen Russia as a great power that should have normal cooperation with the European Union." In his opinion "relations with Russia must be as close as possible."
"We [the European Union and Russia] are partners in addressing the most important international problems, including those we encountered in Syria just recently," Pavlopoulos said. "We may have disagreements on some issues, for instance, those over Ukraine, but we can resolve them through dialogue, provided there is good will. In the face of the main challenges these disagreements fade into the background."
Pavlopoulos said he was speaking not just on behalf of his country.
"Russia has privileged relations with many other states, for instance, Germany. As is known, Greece welcomes such relations," he said. "The European Union and Russia have far more in common than points of disagreement. And this is very good."
Pavlopoulos stressed Athens’ efforts "to promote a rapprochement between the European and Russia by all possible means."
In Greek president's words, Russia has always been and will be a great power, it plays a fundamental role in the fate of the entire humanity.
"Russia has always been and will be a great power, it plays a crucial role in the fate of all humanity, and everyone realizes this — Greece, the EU and the US," he said. "Both in the issue of resolving the Syrian crisis and in combating terrorism Russia, with its enormous strength, has capabilities and acts." He added that Russia "plays the role that is suitable for it." According to Pavlopoulos, cooperation with Russia is needed to end the war in Syria and defeat the Islamic State terrorist group [IS — outlawed in Russia].
Speaking of the Russian-Greek relations, the Greek president said they had always been good. "History has shown that, despite the political situation, there have always been strong ties that unite our two peoples," he said. "There has always been mutual understanding between us in all fundamental issues, and this was confirmed during my recent visit to Moscow."
"As the president of one of the EU countries, I can say that, when necessary, we put aside the differences that separate us to achieve the most important strategic goals, such as resolving the Syrian crisis and fighting against terrorism," Pavlopoulos said. "These are our areas of common interest, and that’s very important. This mutual understanding — not only between Russia, Greece and the EU, but also with the U.S. and all the forces that determine the fate of the world — inspires hope."
Greece will be happy to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin in Athens, the Greek leader told TASS First Deputy Director General.
"We will be happy to welcome the Russian president here in Athens," Pavlopoulos said.
According to the Greek president, "Russia and Greece are cooperating in many spheres." Cooperation in several spheres is already actively developing while other spheres have some untapped potential. "Among them I would want to name economy in general and agricultural cooperation in particular, which is very important for Greece," Pavlopoulos noted. "There are also other spheres of cooperation that are very important, including research, technologies, science, education. There is also tourism. I think that thanks to tourism, the connection between the peoples of our countries is becoming stronger," he added.
"Moreover, energy cooperation is also worth mentioning as we can achieve a lot in this sphere," the Greek president went on. "Greece is an EU member country, and it adheres to all canons of the organization. There are broad prospects for cooperation in the framework of EU’s rules which we are developing and intend to continue developing in the future," he added.
In the framework of the Year of Greece in Russia and Year of Russia in Greece, Pavlopoulos said the events that demonstrate the common culture of the two countries are especially important. "I mean the roots of our cultures that derive from one religion — Orthodox Christianity," he said noting that this religion "sends the signal of love for mankind across the world."