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“Greece can Only Emerge from European Desolation United with Russia”
Russian-Greek relations are now on the rise, which is determined by not only joint history of the two countries, but also by the current geopolitical situation in the European Union. This topic was discussed at the social and political forum of Russian and Greek civil societies in the framework of the Russia-Greece Cross-Year in Moscow.
Russia-Greece Cross-Year, which started on January 15, 2016 was postponed numerous times for many different reasons. But this year is marked by two very important dates: 185 years from the date of tragic death of Russian and Greek state figure Ioannis Kapodistrias and the 1000th anniversary of Russian orthodoxy presence on Athos.
So, it is not a surprise that opening of the Russian and Greek civil societies forum was held at the conference hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Greek side presented Ioannis Kapodistrias’s bronze bust to the Ministry. The destiny of this extraordinary person is remarkable – he managed to leave his mark in both histories of the Russian Empire as an outstanding official (he was the head of the MFA’s collegium from 1816 to 1822), and he was the first leader of independent Greece from 1827 to 1831. By the way, he had none other than Alexander Pushkin as a subordinate employee at the collegium. It was precisely count Kapodistrias, who got a mission to Moldavia for Pushkin, when he was in a lot of trouble for his “Ode to Liberty”.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aleksandr Meshkov, opening the forum, quoted the words of the first Greek president, who wrote that the main problems of the country were negative influence of France and England and difficult financial situation. As it may become clear, the situation has not changed too much in the past 200 years – except for added German influence. Almost all the Greek politicians and public persons, who spoke at the forum, mentioned the negative influence of the country on Greece.
So today, for the sake of Russian-Greek relations, special attention should be paid to the sphere of politics and promoting national interests, underlined senator of the Crimean Republic Olga Kovitdi. According to her, today Russian and Greek interesst are becoming closer again and are on the rise, which can be confirmed by numerous meetings at the highest national level. Thus, the Russian president has visited Greece five times already.
In addition, according to the senator, we have good cooperation experience in the sphere of defense. Despite Greek membership in NATO, Greece purchased air cushion landing ships and anti-aircraft missile complex Ñ-300 from Russia.
Nonetheless, such a rapprochement of the two countries does not has positive impression on everyone. According to chairman of Friendship Society “Russia – Greece” Teodoros Psalidopulos, it caused confusion in Greece and beyond – some said, it caused destabilization of European security. Although, according to him, confrontation with Russia is indeed something, that causes destabilization of European security. “Without Russian cooperation there is no progress – democratic and stable Europe cannot be built without Russia”, - he underlined. It can be confirmed by economic crisis, which is growing because of spoiled European-Russian relations and migration flows caused by wars in the Middle East and no compromise in Syrian issues. European security will only by even more spoiled in case Europe supports armament of Ukraine and the Baltic States, says Psalidopulos. According to him, such shallow policy humiliates Europe. At the same time, Russian and Greek joint history is aimed at the future. “It is the time for the new wave of friendship of our countries”, - said Psalidopulos.
Civil society of both countries should now increase their role in strengthening the ties between our countries, thinks president of Business and Culture Cooperation of Peoples of Greece and Cyprus Association Aleksandr Alekseyev. According to him, we should not only rely on long-term historical connections. For example, cultural and humanitarian exchange between our countries has lowered – there have been no large-scale cultural events lately. It is also necessary to remember about the uniting role of orthodoxy during the 1000th anniversary of Russian orthodoxy presence on Athos. “Speaking about our religious unity is not enough. The Orthodox Church is now under pressure in the European countries – can we stand up for orthodox values together?” – added Aleksandr Alekseyev.
However, Greece itself has to think about saving its own national identity, mentioned a Greek politician, leader of “Powerful Hellas” movement Gavriil Avramidis. He is sure that Russia is the only hope against the threats of financial elite, which imposes its supremacy to all the countries. And ordinary Greeks feel it – the politician mentioned the results of the latest research he held in social networks on the topic “With Whom Greece should Maintain and Fasten Ties”. 4% answered it were NATO and the USA, 15% were for China, 16% - for the EU. And over 50% are sure, that only union with Russia can help Greece survive.
Member of Friendship Society “Russia – Greece” Board Roksalana Zhigon believes, that today Russian-Greek relations are taking on new significance, as today Greece is on the threshold of re-estimating its perspectives in the European Union. According to her, the recently held summit of Southern European countries held in Athens confirmed inability of the European leadership to meet the challenges and threats of European integration failure. “The European project as soft power is losing its attractiveness”, - she says. At the same time, Russian-Greek relations can take a new step forward. It was not a coincidence, when Greece declared a need to create a new association – “10 Great Civilizations” for the countries with a large historical experience. “Greece can only emerge from European desolation united with Russia”, - she resolved.