22 January, 2009
MOSCOW (ANA-MPA - N. Melissova)
Meeting her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis extracted Moscow's pledge of support for all priorities set by the Greek presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including plans to bring peace in the Caucasus and Moscow's assistance in drawing up a new map for European security.
Bakoyannis arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, during her first official trip abroad since Greek assumed the OSCE presidency. In statements afterward, Lavrov expressed hope that the Greek OSCE presidency would also help to strengthen the two countries bilateral ties, leading to a strategic partnership.
The greater part of the meeting between the two ministers was devoted to Greece's proposal for finding a compromise solution that would allow OSCE observers to remain in Georgia and South Ossetia. Neither side revealed the contents of the Greek proposal during a later joint press conference, however, with Lavrov refusing to answer questions regarding the possibility of separate missions to South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali and to Tbilisi - something that the Georgian government objects to.
Bakoyannis stressed, on her part, that Greece does not intend to cross the "red lines" of either side, while Lavrov described the Greek proposal as "realistic" and one that took into account both the 'de facto' and 'de jure' aspects of the situation.
The Greek minister also underlined the difficulty of the undertaking: "All 56 countries of the OSCE must agree; countries with different approaches but with common values and principles. We must deal jointly with existing problems, such as the presence of the OSCE in Georgia and South Ossetia," she said.
Lavrov praised the Greek side's successful bid to broker the flow of natural gas from Tbilisi to South Ossetia, stressing that this was a major humanitarian success for Greece given that it was now mid-winter.
He further expressed his gratitude to Bakoyannis for adopting a proposal by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for dialogue on redesigning the security structure of Europe.
"The common aim is to ensure that the security of each side is not at the expense of some other side," he underlined, adding that the OSCE possessed mechanisms for political and military cooperation that could be used to promote dialogue toward this end.
Following their meeting, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement saying that "Russia hails the priorities of the Greek presidency of the OSCE in 2009."The Russian side evaluated positively the priorities set by Greece for the OSCE's activities in 2009 and hailed the intention of the Greek presidency to organise a special ministerial meeting to continue discussion on the security problems in the Euro-Atlantic region and ways of resolving them," the statement adds.
The two ministers continued their talks over lunch, during which they tackled issues of bilateral interest, such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and trade sectors.
Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations
Source: Athens News Agency