Following the talks both prime ministers made statements to the press
Statements to the press by Mikhail Mishustin and Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Kyriakos Mitsotakis:
From the transcript:
Kyriakos Mitsotakis (retranslated): On behalf of all Greeks I have the honour of welcoming Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin to Athens today. He has arrived in Greece with a special mission and will represent his great country at the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Greek national liberation revolution. In addition, 2021 has been proclaimed the Year of Greek and Russian History.
The relations between our countries are rooted in the remote past. We have the potential to take them into the future. We are linked by common history, culture and religion. The ties established back in the Byzantine Empire only grew stronger owing to the Greek communities in Russia and became allied relations with the start of the 1821 revolution. This was natural because Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) was born in Odessa, in the Russian Empire. Our great benefactor Ioannis Varvakis launched his activities in Russia. Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first ruler of independent Greece, arrived from Russia. Alexander Pushkin himself was the first to herald the start of the revolution with his verse “Revolt, oh Greece, revolt…” It was written exactly 200 years ago – on 25 March, 1821. As early as in March 1821, he wrote a letter to his friend Vasily Davydov as a genuine Greek: “All my thoughts are striving towards one goal – the independence of the ancient homeland.”
When the Greek revolution was in danger, Russia and its allies Britain and France took part in the Battle of Navarino where the Ottoman Empire sustained a heavy defeat. We must not forget that Russia’s victory in the struggle against the Ottoman Empire in 1829 led to the signing of the London Protocol that signified the birth of a new Greek state. During subsequent decades, international events and geopolitical circumstances brought our nations closer together to a varying extent. However, they have never severed historical ties between our nations. This is exactly why we fought shoulder to shoulder – first in WWI and then in the war against the Nazis, where the victory was won by Russia, the Soviet Union and Greece at a high price in blood.
Greece is a member of the European Union and NATO, which determines the foreign policy foundations of our state. At the same time, we consider Russia to be an important component of the European security system, which must certainly be based on relations of cooperation rather than antagonism, on respect for such values as protection of human rights. It is only possible to defeat such current challenges and threats as extremism and terrorism from positions of cooperation and under no circumstances through confrontation.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, your country, Mr Prime Minister, bears responsibility for preserving peace and maintaining the rule of law at the global level. This is a duty rather than a privilege and this is why we are listening with such attention to your positions on the issues that are of special interest to Greece. One example is your commitment to the Law of the Sea in the Mediterranean.
We also welcome Russia’s clear-cut position on the expansion of our territorial waters to 12 miles. This is a matter of principle. Naturally, we do not forget Russia’s steady support for the settlement of the Cyprus issue, which is based on the formation of a single two-zone state. As expected, Mr Mishustin, we discussed the issues concerning the entire region, bilateral relations and the efforts to counter the pandemic. Against the background of expanding vaccination, we discussed the travel of Russian tourists to Greece in the near future. We know that Russian people have a special love for our country. We will do everything we can regarding vaccination so that Russian tourists can visit our country without any additional restrictions.
In a word, I consider our meeting today remarkable. It was not just a protocol meeting. Let me emphasise that I consider this meeting with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation remarkable. Mr Prime Minister, thank you for your presence in Athens at this festive event, at our celebrations. Welcome to Athens once again.
Mikhail Mishustin: Good afternoon, colleagues and the media.
I have just met with the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis. This is our first meeting, and I am happy to note that it was held in a friendly atmosphere and in a constructive manner. We have coordinated out positions and updated all the areas in which we cooperate with Greece.
I would like to thank our Greek partners for organising several joint events and for this opportunity to take part in the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Greek national liberation revolution. And I certainly think this is a common holiday for both Russia and Greece.
Our ancestors have always supported the Greek people in their struggle for freedom. It is symbolic that the first head of independent Greece was Ioannis Kapodistrias, State Secretary in charge of Foreign affairs, the de facto Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, as you said, Mr Prime Minister.
We have supported each other at other times in history as well. And today, we still value the traditions of our friendship and mutual assistance.
We have also noted that the historical and cultural ties between our two states create a solid foundation for our joint work in various fields, primarily in the humanitarian sphere. We will be holding the fourth Russian-Greek cross year project, the Year of History. National event programmes have already been prepared. This project will be officially launched soon, a highly significant project for both countries. It will help our citizens get to know each other's cultures and traditions even better.
We will continue to develop cooperation in other areas as well. Today’s meeting with Mr Mitsotakis has reaffirmed our mutual interest in promoting joint projects in many different areas.
But of course, the coronavirus has affected our economic cooperation quite a bit. Last year, mutual trade fell by more than one-third. There are untapped investment opportunities. We have discussed this in detail and outlined areas in which we will work. Tourism has suffered the most, of course. The Greek authorities are gradually opening the borders to tourists, but it is also important to ensure that travelling is safe. We discussed the necessary precautions. The fight against the coronavirus continues for all countries, but we also need to jointly find ways to overcome its consequences for international, including our bilateral, relations. This is something the Joint Russian-Greek Commission for Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was instructed to do. Its goal is to take effective measures to restore cooperation and to deepen dialogue in all fields.
The Prime Minister and I have also agreed to continue our work on improving the bilateral legal framework. Agreements in such key areas as healthcare, communications and information technology are high on the agenda. Our talks have demonstrated a common interest in the comprehensive expansion of relations between Russia and Greece. We are going to do this on a modern and innovative basis, taking into account our historical experience and our peoples’ sincere sympathies for each other.
Once again, I would like to thank you, Mr Prime Minister, and the government of the Hellenic Republic, for your hospitality and warm welcome to the Russian delegation. And taking this opportunity, I would like to wish you all the best on the occasion of this important holiday.