We see significant improvement in Greece’s economic condition, says Russian envoy Maslov

Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrey Maslov, in an interview to the public broadcaster ERT on Tuesday, referred to Greek-Russian relations, Turkey and the FYROM name issue, as well as the conflict in Syria and Greece’s condition after the exit from the programme.

Maslov said that his country is very satisfied with the high level of cooperation with Greece and made a special reference to bilateral relations in the economic, trade and tourism sectors, especially now that, as he said, “we are sharing the common tourism year that was inaugurated last year in Moscow and will end in Athens in November”.

Referring to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Moscow, at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said that the dates will be confirmed via diplomatic channels and estimated that the visit will take place in the second half of 2018.

On Greek-Turkish relations, the Russian envoy supported that the “main characteristic of Russia’s foreign policy is that it is based on international law,” adding that “respect for international law and the obligations arising from international treaties, such as the Lausanne Treaty, should dominate in all difficult times.”

According to Maslov, differences should be resolved peacefully via diplomacy because “Greece and Turkey are both NATO members”. Asked about the possibility of an incident in the Aegean, he said “I do not see the possibility of an incident”

On the negotiations for the FYROM name issue, Maslov stated that his country is monitoring these closely and believes that “a solution should be found at the negotiating table, with respect for international law, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.” The Russian ambassador also clarified that if the two sides find a solution, whatever name is agreed and incorporated into FYROM’s Constitution will be recognised by Russia, while making this conditional on a review of FYROM’s Constitution.

On the Syrian conflict, Maslov called it a major tragedy and estimated that the “condition has stabilised in the last year as the Syrian armed forces, with Russian assistance, succeeded fighting off Islamic State and terrorism in the region.” The heavy bombing on April 14 obstructed the political path toward a settlement, he added.

Finally, referring to Greece and the post-programme period, the Russian ambassador stated: “The Greek economy is making good progress. We see substantial improvement in Greece’s economic condition, as last year we succeeded in improving the economic figures in our bilateral relations in all sectors.”

Maslov made a special reference to trade between the two countries, noting that this was back up to 3.7 billion dollars, rising 27 pct in comparison with the previous year. He also said that 900,000 tourists from Russia visited Greece last year, while the number of tourists in 2018 is expected to exceed 1.0 million.