22 November, 2006
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, in light of her official two-day visit to Russia beginning on Wednesday, gave an interview to the Russian RIA-Novosti news agency.
Bakoyannis said she will have the opportunity of meeting her "counterpart and good friend Sergey Lavrov, Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov and National Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.
Regarding the agreement on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, the Greek foreign minister said that "we all want to see this project going ahead with the fastest possible rate, since it is a project of great importance for all three countries (Greece, Russia and Bulgaria). For this reason our goal is, and we are working in this direction, to have difficulties or obstacles that will possibly arise be overcome quickly and effectively and there be continuous progress for the final implementation of the project."
Bakoyannis further said that the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline is an issue of extreme importance for Greece since it signals a substantive strategic upgrading of Greece's role.
"We are aware that energy diplomacy constitutes a sector whose importance is increasing continuously in the modern-day international environment. Our goal is, with our policy and with major projects such as the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline and the Greek-Italian undersea gas pipeline, to promote our country to an energy hub both of the region and of Europe. Our close cooperation with Russia has, of course, a focal position in the framework of this policy," she said.
Focusing on developments in bilateral economic cooperation between Greece and Russia, the Greek foreign minister said "our goal is for our bilateral economic relations to be strengthened even further so that their level will be in line with the high level of our political relations. I believe that the strengthening of the sector of investments on both sides and the greater increase in commercial flows between us, to give you two examples, will contribute considerably to maintaining and increasing the impetus acquired by our economic cooperation."
Referring to Turkey's European orientation, Bakoyannis said that Greece supports Turkey in its "long and difficult path" to the European Union and pointed out that "for Turkey's European course, however, the preconditions and criteria applying for all countries desiring to become EU members also apply. Turkey has undertaken commitments and obligations towards the 25 member-states which it is called on to observe so that its accession course can continue smoothly. The implementation of the Ankara Protocol holds an important position among them."
Coming to the issue of Cyprus, the foreign minister said that "it is one of the issues that I will have the opportunity of discussing with Mr. Lavrov during our meeting. Greece continues to remain bent on the target of finding a comprehensive, just and viable solution for the reunification of Cyprus, based on the resolutions of the Security Council and the principles and values of the European Union, of which the Republic of Cyprus is a member. I would like once again to express our gratitude to Russia for the steadfast support it is providing in efforts for this goal."
Lastly, Bakoyannis referred to Russia's relations with the EU and the NATO alliance, saying that "as you are aware, in the framework of both these organizations, Greece steadfastly supports their rapprochement with Russia. As regards the specific issues you refer to, there is a coincidence of views between Greece and Russia, both for the need for a diplomatic solution to the issue of Iran's nuclear program, for which we are also cooperating in the framework of the Security Council and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in general. We also share a common interest and views on the peace process in the Middle East and for the wider region of the Balkans and for Kosovo specifically, something that is reflected in relevant consultations between us."
Source: Athens News Agency