FM Kotzias: Sergey Lavrov visit to Greece on November 1-2 is especially significant

The visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Greece on November 1-2 is especially significant for Greece and comes during a fragile international conjuncture, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias commented in an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax on Monday.

Kotzias said the visit is expected to confirm the good bilateral cooperation between Greece and Russia, especially in the area of investments, economy and energy. It would also serve as an opportunity to discuss a series of international and regional issues, such as the crisis in the Middle East with emphasis on Syria and the Cyprus issue. The minister expressed satisfaction with the recent signature of a programme of talks between the Greek and Russian foreign ministries for the period 2017-2019 covering a broad range of bilateral cooperation issues.

“Greece believes in the need to keep channels of communication with Russia open,” Kotzias added, noting that Russia was an integral part of Europe’s security architecture and should not be excluded from this in any way. Asked about EU preparations to impose new sanctions on Russia in response to the situation in Syria, Kotzias said that he personally had reservations about such a prospect.

“Sanctions, if they are adopted, must have a specific purpose and this must be to normalise the situation. If sanctions are adopted exclusively due to the activation of cold-war reflexes, then the specific measures will be unproductive and not contribute to keeping channels of communication open,” he said.

Greece’s position was in favour of a focus on diplomacy to create the conditions that will allow an end of the civil conflict in Syria and avoid extending a fruitless antagonsim, Kotzias added.