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Russia will lose nothing because of chill in relations with Greece, expert says

According to the expert, the experience of recent bilateral relations shows that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to keep his promises

MOSCOW, August 8. /TASS/. Moscow will lose nothing because of the chill in relations with Athens, Oleg Barabanov, programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club, told TASS.

He reminded that Greek ambassador to Russia Andreas Fryganas had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was presented with a note informing of the retaliatory measures taken by the Russian side in response to Athens' unfriendly actions toward Russian diplomats in mid-July.

According to the expert, the experience of recent bilateral relations shows that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to keep his promises.

"You cannot seriously set hopes on cooperation with him. That’s why if he stands for an explicit break in relations Russia won’t lose anything. Because over the years Moscow has not seen any practical benefits from its friendship with Tsipras," Barabanov said.

He stressed that there are many partners in the EU that are trying to keep the doors open for dialogue with Russia despite "all the complexity of relations in general."

"Unlike Tsipras, this dialogue turns to be much more constructive for Russia, so if the Greek leader does not want it, we largely don’t need this either," Barabanov concluded.

About conflict

According to the expert, Russian-Greek relations began to worsen in the early summer due to the talks between Greece and Macedonia over Macedonia’s name. Athens suspected Russia of interfering in this process.

"Greece accused Russia of interference in its internal affairs: allegedly, Russia tried to disrupt the agreement on the name of Macedonia, because if it were not concluded, Macedonia would not be admitted to NATO. Now, Skopje has been given the green light," the analyst said.

"Russia denies all these accusations," he added.

On July 11, the Greek Kathimerini daily reported, citing diplomatic sources, that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban another two from entering the country. According to the daily, Greek authorities accused the diplomats of meddling in the country’s domestic affairs and undermining Greece’s national security. The newspaper said that the diplomats were specifically accused of "attempting to obtain and disseminate information, as well as bribe state officials." Greek Government Spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos later confirmed the information about the expulsion of diplomats. In turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow would take tit-for-tat measures in response to this step.

In turn, Russian Foreign Ministry’ spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that this step will not have a positive impact on the bilateral relations.

The dispute between Macedonia and Greece over the name of the former Yugoslav republic, which coincides with the name of the northern Greek region, began 25 years ago.

Athens sought to change the name of the neighboring country and opposed its accession to the European Union and NATO.

On June17, Foreign Ministers of Greece and Macedonia Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov, signed an agreement on renaming the former Yugoslav republic in the Republic of Northern Macedonia. The referendum on the country's accession to NATO and the EU is scheduled for September 31.