Greece and Russia are ready to leave behind a diplomatic row that caused tension between the two countries in July, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after meeting in Moscow on Friday.
In July, Athens announced it had expelled two Russian diplomats and banned two others from coming to Greece, for trying to bribe officials against allowing FYROM to join NATO. Russia denied the allegations and tensions commenced between the two countries.
In their first meeting since the incident, the two leaders defended their countries’ stance and said they were ready for a fresh start.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone with common sense either in Greece or Russia could think that Russia would plot or intrigue against Greece. It’s just nonsense, rubbish.”
“I hope that this page really has been turned,” he said.
Tsipras said he believed the diplomatic row was an isolated incident and that the two countries had a lot to gain from deepening future cooperation.
“I believe that we are looking forward and that this case is over. What is important today is to take advantage of our big potential to deepen our cooperation in a series of sectors,” he said.
There is a significant historical foundation to Greek-Russian relations "that has allowed us to build a stable but also dynamic relationship over the centuries," Tsipras also said on Friday, in joint statements with Putin following their meeting in the Kremlin.
"The occasion for my visit is the 190th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, which are based on strong historical, religious, cultural and intellectual ties between our people," Tsipras said.
"I consider that this significant historical foundation has allowed us to build a stable but also dynamic relationship through the centuries, which, in its turn, made it possible for us to continue conversing and cooperating with each other even when geopolitcal developments kept us apart," Tsipras added.
"Greek-Russian dialogue was not always easy, as was proved in the summer. However, our desire that our relations should remain on the firm tracks that we built with hard work since 2015 helps us to overcome the difficulties and return to the essential mutual respect and mutual understanding," said Tsipras.
Putin said that the visit by Tsipras to Russia was especially timely, during the joint statements after their meeting on Friday in Moscow.
"Many prospects unite us," said President Putin.
He underlined the emphasis that both countries place on investments and the trade sector, while again noting that the current year was the 190th anniversary since Greece and Russia first established diplomatic relations.
Putin also noted that last year bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 27 percent, reaching 3.7 billion dollars and afterward referred to other sectors on which Russian interest is focused, namely energy, culture and tourism.
Especially for tourism, the Russian President referred to the record number of Russians that visited Greece last year, noting that this number.