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Putin and Tsipras Take Russian-Greek Relations to New Heights in Moscow Meeting

April 8, 2015 (EIRNS)—Greece and Russia have agreed to bring the political and economic relations to a new level following bilateral meetings in Moscow between visiting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Discussions centered around economic cooperation, particularly in the area of energy and infrastructure. The warm atmosphere and discussion on cooperation on all levels contrasts sharply with the anti-Russian European Union policy, and marks another step in the process of Greece being de facto integrated into the BRICS system.

Three agreements were signed, one of which deals with cooperation between Greece and Russia for 2015, including trade and finance. The second is a declaration commemorating the 70-year anniversary of the end of World War II, and a third was a memorandum that declares 2016 the "Year of Greece in Russia" and the "Year of Russia in Greece," with various cultural events and cooperative initiatives.

During the press conference both leaders addressed the crisis in Europe caused by the situation in Ukraine. Tsipras urged for an end to the sanctions against Russia, saying, "To get out of this profound crisis we need to leave behind this vicious cycle of sanctions."

Countering the Western propaganda lies that the Russian President is using Greece against the European Union, Putin said, "About mythology and Trojan horses and so forth: The question would be valid if I were the one going to Athens," Putin replied to a reporter who asked about EU fears. "We are not forcing anyone to do anything. We are not going to use anything inside the European Union to solve in a fragmented fashion the issue of improving relations with the European bloc as a whole," Putin continued.

For reasons indicated in his statement, Putin announced that he would not make Greece an exception to the Russian embargo on importing food from the EU, saying that sanctions cannot be lifted for only one country.

Furthermore Putin said the Greek side did not approach Russia for financial help.

Energy was a key topic of discussion, especially the proposed Turkish Stream pipeline from Russia to Turkey and thence to Greece and to Eastern and Central Europe.

"Of course, we have discussed the prospects of realization of the large infrastructure project which we call Turkish Stream—a key project for transporting Russian gas to the Balkans, maybe to Italy, the countries of Central Europe,"

Putin said at the press conference.

"The new route will provide for the Europeans’ needs in fuel, and would allow Greece to become one of the main power distribution centers on the continent, could help attract significant investments into the Greek economy,"

Putin said, adding that Greece could earn hundreds of millions of euros from gas transits annually.

In turn, Tsipras said that Athens is interested in attracting investment in construction of the pipeline on its territory to handle gas coming through the Turkish Stream.

Tsipras was accompanied by Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was in Moscow less than two weeks ago, and by his Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

Kotzias had flown directly to Moscow from a meeting in Budapest of the Foreign Ministers of Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), where they signed declaration of political intent in support of the Turkish Stream pipeline. It was agreed that they would hold future meetings to discuss details of the venture. The next ministerial meeting is expected to take place in July but bilateral talks will start earlier. (It should be noted that four of the five countries that took part in the Budapest meeting, namely Hungary, Greece, Serbia, and F.Y.R.O.M., are part of the "China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line." The project is sponsored by China to develop a transport corridor from the Greek Port of Piraeus into Central Europe through those four countries.)

On April 9 Tsipras has another full day, during which he will hold meetings with the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.