ATHENS – Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will visit Athens on March 24th to discuss bilateral relations with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos MitsotakisA conversation designed to cover topics such as culture, economy and energy, as well as Russia’s participation in a military parade marking the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Turks and the country’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on March 25th.
After the Kremlin announced this Russian president Wladimir Putin has no plans to visit Athens, Greece invited Mishustin.
“When it comes to the relations between Greece and Turkey and the impact of the Russian factor, I think the main reason Mishustin is going to visit Greece is to symbolically demonstrate that Russia was a factor in Greece’s independence and that Image of Russia in Greece afterwards improved tarnished by the Prespes Agreement (2018) (which settled a long-standing dispute over the name of North Macedonia) ”. Constantinos FilisThe Research Director at the Institute for International Relations told New Europe in a phone interview on March 22 that Moscow attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of Greece after an agreement had been reached between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia under the auspices of the United Nations.
“Russia and its inability to influence the course of developments in relation to the Greek economy, as was expected in both 2010 and 2015, and in particular (due to) its close and very close and very warm relationship that takes on strategic characteristics with Turkey are of course worrying. And I suspect that Mishustin firstly wants to show that Russia was an important part of the Greek War of Independence of 1821 and secondly wants to improve Russia’s image in Greece, especially with regard to its strategic relations with Turkey, “Filis said.
“Russia and the Greek diaspora in the former Russian Empire played a key role in the revolution. Imagine what the perception would have been if Greece hadn’t sent its invitation to the Russian Prime Minister instead of Putin, as our relations are currently not at their best. They are probably at a very low level. It is therefore logical to invite Russia to a celebration of the Greek Revolution of 1821, ”said Filis.
“After (the battle of 1827) Navarino (where an allied combined naval force of Great Britain, France and Russia defeated the Turks and helped guarantee the independence of Greece) it is not so easy to find examples in our modern history where Russia was positive contribution to our interests.
For example, let’s look at the Treaty of San Stefano of 1878, which actually gave birth to Bulgarian irredentism and, in many other cases, the collaboration between them Kemal ((Ataturk) and (Vladimir) Lenin. In so many cases, our Russian friends have not been so kind to Greece, but that is politics. For me, someone with a PhD on Russia, my interest piqued the fact that it took many decades for the average Greek to realize that Russia is no kinder to Greece than any other state just because of our shared Orthodox ties. It is a state that has its own interests and serves its own interests. The Russians are not pro-Greeks per se just because we are both Orthodox, ”Filis told New Europe.
Russia has blamed Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the loss of Hagia Sophia (in Istanbul): “The famous remark by (Kremlin spokesman) Dmitri) Peskov Who says it is now easier for Russians to visit Hagia Sofia for free? I mean, you don’t have to pay a ticket. This is a clear indication of how cynical and pragmatic Russian foreign policy has been over the years, even if Russia uses Orthodoxy or Russian patriarchy as a means of achieving its foreign policy goals, “Filis said.
According to reports, Peskov said in a radio interview that Turkey’s decision to convert the 6th-century Hagia Sophia Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a museum since 1934, into a mosque would not affect Moscow’s relations and that he understood the move was “an internal matter”.
“There were quite expensive tickets for Hagia Sophia, but now there are no more tickets, entry is free. In this regard, our tourists will win, ”Peskov was quoted as saying, sparking an angry reaction from the Greek government.
Filis said Greece needs to strike a balance in its relations with Russia. “Relations will of course not be restored just because the Prime Minister has been invited to our parade. But it is a sign on our part that we want to find some common denominators with Russia, and if you looked at it from the bigger picture, Greece would have because Russia is a power in the eastern Mediterranean that cannot be ignored, “Filis said, adding:” That does not mean that we will change our strategic direction or, like Turkey, slide into Russia or the East. But in order to find a balance with Russia and to find a balance in Greek-Turkish relations and the role of Russia, Greece should try to achieve this. “