The Greek Press Today
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30 April, 2008
The visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the signing of the agreement on the South Stream natural gas pipeline confirms the strategic relation between Greece and Russia, according to statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Karamanlis after their meeting and their working luncheon on Tuesday.
"Greece's options in the sector of energy have as their exclusive criterion the energy security of our country and of our European partners, through the mutually beneficial cooperation between suppliers, transporters and energy consumers," the prime minister said.
Referring to the agreement on the South Stream natural gas pipeline, he said that "it is one of the most important projects for the countries of southern and central Europe and it is part of the strategy of diversifying the course of natural gas. With these facts, Greece considers the construction of infrastructures based on conditions of increasing demand for gas as being very positive."
Focusing on Greece in particular, Karamanlis said that South Stream is of vital importance for the Greek energy market, given that high growth rates and the need to end dependence on oil create a greater need for gas.
In a comment on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the prime minister said, "The issue of the name of FYROM is not a psychological or a sentimental one. It is an exclusively political problem and the pending issue deals a blow at relations of good neighborliness and conditions of stability in the wider Balkan region. Greece is pursuing a solution that will be mutually acceptable, viable, comprehensive and workable and which will apply to all and will bear the seal of the UN Security Council. We hope that the political leadership of Skopje will respond to our sincere desire for a compromise, brushing aside nationalist logics and conceptions of the past."
He further expressed his conviction that Russia, in its capacity of a UN Security Council permanent member, will make every possible effort to secure the full implementation of UN resolutions and values.
On the question of Kosovo, the prime minister said that Greece's position has always been to achieve agreed upon solutions and not the creation of a fait accomplis. With regards to recognition of the new situation, Greece will be making its decisions after a detailed examination of all the developments.
Referring to his Moscow visit and talks Tuesday, Karamanlis said that "the meeting (with President Putin) has a very symbolic significance and confirms the excellent personal relation between us, the strategic nature of the relations of the two countries, and our commitment to strengthen these relations even more in the future."
He spoke of his personal relation with President Putin: "I acknowledge in his person a very reliable interlocutor and partner who has played a leading role in the strategic upgrading of the relations of the two countries."
He also stressed that the substantive foundations for the two countries' relations include close historic bonds, common interests, and neighboring views on many issues.
During their meeting, the two leaders discussed ways of expanding cultural relations on the occasion of 2013 being proclaimed "Russia Year" for Greece and "Greece Year" for Russia. They also discussed ways of strengthening economic cooperation in the sectors of investments, tourism and construction.
On his part, President Putin said that the visit will contribute to the further development of the two countries' relations, adding that they held talks on a wide circle of issues of both bilateral and international concern.
The two leaders also paid special attention to energy plans that include the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline.
The Russian President said that the aim is for to increase the energy security of the Balkans and of Europe. He said, "we discussed specific ways of deepening the traditionally good relations of the two countries. We discussed Kosovo as well as the issue of Cyprus. The positions of the two countries are close and both favor the observance of principles of international law."
Speaking about energy policy, he said that "the implementation of the South Stream does not mean that Russia is opposed to other energy plans, if there are other options for energy resources we shall be pleased."
Commenting on the close relation between Greece and Russia, he said, "The energy plans that require considerable investments and have an economic result also have a political importance and lead to the upgrading of the role of the country participating. As regards its energy policy in Europe, Russia has various options. It chose, however, to promote the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline and the South Stream through Greece. We are aware that competing companies and countries will try to prevent and delay the project, presenting economic and political arguments. We shall work with seriousness to implement our plans."
Replying to a question on the United States, President Putin said that "if Greece wanted neckties or underwear it could purchase them from Italy or China. But when it is a question of energy resources the countries that can offer can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Russia's proposal is the most beneficial one, both from a qualitative and an economic point of view."
On the question of Kosovo, President Putin said that his position is known. He said he was against faits accomplis and in favour of agreed solutions. The unilateral declaration of independence "is not fair and it is not based on principles of international law."
Addressing western officials, President Putin said that he "cannot term some people freedom fighters and term others who do the same thing terrorists."
Karamanlis, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, and Development Minister Christos Folias, also met with newly-elected Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was received by outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for a meeting that highlighted strategic relations between Greece and Russia in energy cooperation. Karamanlis is currently in Moscow for a working visit.
"The invitation that you extended to me, at what is for you an emotionally charged time, underlines the strategic relations between our countries and the friendship that binds them," Karamanlis said in statements made after meeting Putin in the Kremlin in reference to the Russian president's imminent departure from the presidential office on May 7.
He said the talks with Putin had reviewed the very good cooperation between Greece and Russia in recent years, while adding that they would "lay the foundations for further dynamic cooperation in all areas".
In addition to bilateral issues, Karamanlis said that he and Putin had also exchanged views on international affairs.
According to the Greek premier, the Russian president had made an invaluable personal contribution to developing ties with Greece, and bilateral relations would continue to deepen at the same rate after Putin assumes his new position as Russia's prime minister.
Putin referred to the important energy projects being carried out in collaboration with Greece, noting that "this cooperation is very important and will contribute to the energy security of Europe and of Greece".
He commented on the economic ties between the two countries, saying that the overall turnover in trade transactions approached three billion dollars.
The Russian president added that the two countries placed special emphasis on environmental issues and were in constant contact over international affairs.
"We rely on the positive role that Greece has always played in relations between Russia and Europe," Putin said at one point.
The Russian leader stressed that Karamanlis will also be meeting his successor Dmitri Medvedev and emphasized that he was handing over the presidency against a background of major growth for the Russian economy and a stable political situation domestically.
"Our bilateral relations will continue to improve," Putin added, expressing certainty that the new Russian president would prove to be a "good and reliable partner".
"I know that you monitor relations between Greece and Russia very closely and you can be sure that these will continue along the same lines in the future," he concluded.
Medvedev will be assuming his duties officially on May 7, while the next day, the State Duma (Lower House) will be expected to ratify the presidential proposal and elect Putin prime minister.
According to the Kremlin program, the meeting with Karamanlis, who is expected back in Athens on Wednesday, was among Putin's last with foreign leaders in his presidential capacity.
Source: Athens News Agency