Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias sets off to Russia amid Ukraine tensions

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Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias is scheduled to visit Russia next week, where he will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at the latter's invitation, foreign ministry spokesperson Alexandros Papaioannou announced at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Specifically, Dendias is scheduled to depart for Moscow on February 17 and to meet with Lavrov the next day.

The two top officials are to discuss a series of issues, such as bilateral relations, collaboration in economic and cultural issues, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Cyprus issue, developments in the region, as well as the developments in Eastern Europe.

Papaioannou underlined that Greece and Russia have historically warm relations, while engaging in a sincere and constructive dialogue.

He also clarified that "Greece is member of the European Union and of NATO," adding that Greece always points out to all its interlocutors that it is important to maintain the channels of communication. "We consider Russia a key and integral part of the European security architecture," he said.

In a message addressed to all sides and not just Russia, Papaioannou also pointed out the need to de-escalate tensions. Any heightening of tension will be detrimental to all sides, he underlined, while expressing Greece's particular concern for the Greek community in the area, which numbers roughly 120,000 people.