Without as of yet an official Kremlin announcement, Alexis Tsipras is preparing to visit Moscow on December 6, where he will have meetings with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev the following day, December 7, at the residence outside the Russian capital and then with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in Kremlin.
It is the fourth official meeting of the two leaders. Two visits by the Greek Prime Minister have taken place on 8 April 2015 in Moscow and 19 June 2015 in St. Petersburg, while the Russian President visited Athens on 27 May 2016 as part of his pilgrimage trip to Mount Athos. The last Tsipras-Putin meeting was held in Beijing on the sidelines of the One Belt One Road Forum, on May 14, 2017.
According to information of the International Balkan News Agency, the Russian side was not particularly warm to the Greek Prime Minister’s visit to the Russian capital, after the diplomatic crisis that caused tensions in Greek-Russian relations in July 2018, with the expulsion of two Russian diplomats and the ban from entering Greece to two others, due to their negative involvement in the mobilizations for the Macedonian issue.
What irritated the Russian leadership, according to the same sources, was that while on June 13, 2018 there was a meeting of former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, where the latter extended the official invitation to Alexis Tsipras , no reference was made by Nikos Kotzias to his Russian counterpart on the “annoyance” of Greece to the actions of Russian diplomats. A claim however that sources belonging to the former Foreign Minister refute, as the actions of these diplomats had been made known to the Russian side, a year and a half before their expulsion.
This was the reason why it was rumoured that the former Foreign Minister’s presence was not welcome to the visit, when it was decided by the Russian side.
The latest diplomatic tension, in addition to the long-term “inaction” in relations between the two countries, reportedly does not create high expectations for the meeting of the two leaders.
Greece, on its part, wants a rapprochement with a strong country such as Russia to maintain the balance on the international political scene, in the context of a multidimensional and active foreign policy, while eyes positively a beneficial cooperation at the financial level.
From the Russian side, there is a desire to have a presence in Greece, either through investments or through strategic partnerships, but this is difficult at the moment.
According to information of IBNA, while there has been interest on the part of Russia for investments, there has so far been no good proposals from the Greek, which could be positively evaluated and implemented.
The Russian leadership’s desire is not to repeat the mistakes of Alexis Tsipras’ “unfruitful” visits to Russia in 2015 and to create a positive agenda, on which a strategic partnership could be formulated between two traditionally friendly countries.
Otherwise, according to information from Greek sources, talks will focus on bilateral relations on issues of economy, energy, culture, while regional issues such as the Cyprus problem, the Balkans, Syria, Libya and Euro-European relations will also be discussed.
During the official visit of Alexis Tsipras to Moscow, bilateral agreements and memoranda of cooperation will be signed in areas such as merchant shipping, fight against organized crime, sport, standardization, etc. The agreements will be signed on behalf of the Greek side by Deputy Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, who will also participate in the 11th Mixed Interministerial Meeting between Greece and Russia, from 5 to 6 December.
However, what’s interesting is the small participation of government staff in this visit, although there is a desire and willingness on both sides to revive the two countries’ relations./IBNA