The Deputy Foreign Minister stressed in a television interview that Greece at this stage needs to re-establish its ties with Russia that were severely weakened by the previous SYRIZA government.

Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis spoke on ANT1 about Russia and the role it could play in the decision by the EU to impose sanctions on Turkey.

Asked to comment on whether Moscow could influence the decision, Varvitsiotis stressed that Russia’s relations with Greece need to be strengthened.

“I think Russia has a special relationship with Turkey. I will tell you that in recent years the link between Greece and Russia has relaxed, especially after the diplomatic moves with the expulsion of Russian diplomats who served in Athens a few years ago and various other moves that have led to the need to re-approach to more strong level,” he said.

In July 2018, the SYRIZA government expelled two Russian diplomats and barred entry of two others on the accusation of undermining the national security of Greece, without giving much more details.

Varvitsiotis made it clear that the NAVTEX for Russian exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, are “traditionally” transmitted from Turkey.

“Yesterday it was announced in all the media in Greece that Russia is exercising together with Turkey in Cyprus, which is not the case,” he stressed.

“It is traditional that the NAVTEX is issued by Cyprus, because Turkey does not recognize these NAVTEX and it concerns a third country. Turkey also transmits them,” he said.

It is recalled that today the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, from Cyprus expressed Russia’s readiness to contribute to the dialogue with Turkey in order to de-escalate tensions in the East Mediterranean, as reported by Greek City Times.

“We are also concerned about the situation in the Mediterranean. As far as relations with the Turkish Republic are concerned, we are ready to contribute to the establishment of a realistic dialogue based on mutual interests and aimed at the search for fair, decisions based on international law,” Lavrov said at the beginning of his talks with the President of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis.

The Russian foreign minister also expressed concern about US efforts to provoke regional tensions and condemned any move that could lead to further escalation in the Mediterranean.

He also invited the Cypriot Foreign Minister to visit Russia.

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