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Russia-Greece Relations: Facts and Details

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Flag of Greece - Sputnik International
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected in Greece on Friday with a two-day visit to discuss the countries' bilateral ties.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected in Greece on Friday with a two-day visit to discuss the countries' bilateral ties.

Relations between Greece and Russia were established in 1828 and have been maintained since, aside from a short pause between the October Revolution in 1917 and 1924, when they were reestablished. On December 27, 1991, Greece recognized Russia as the legal successor to the Soviet Union.

Moscow and Athens engage in active political dialogue, over 10 official and high-level working visits have taken place since 1993. The most recent one was Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Moscow in April 2015.

At the May 9, 2015 events in Moscow devoted to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the Hellenic Republic was represented by Parliament Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias was in Moscow with a working visit in February 2015, at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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Russian-Greek ties rest upon a developed legal base that includes over 50 existing contracts and agreements regulating a wide range of matters of bilateral importance.

According to Russian customs statistics, Russia’s trade turnover with Greece in 2014 amounted to $4.17 billion and to $2.28 billion in 2015.

The decline in trade is related, in particular, to the ban of EU food products import imposed by Russia in August 2014 in response to sanctions against Moscow.

Russian direct investment in Greece was estimated at $653 million in the first nine months of 2015.

The Joint Russian-Greek Commission on Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technical Cooperation has been in place since 1997. The commission is chaired by Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas. The most recent meeting of the joint commission was held in the Russian Black Sea city Sochi in November 2015.

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The countries also maintain cultural cooperation. In January 2016, Putin and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced a cross-cultural year at an opening ceremony in Moscow. The event program includes not only cultural exchange but also the boost of political, defense, economic, tourism, science and technology cooperation.

According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, Greece was the third most popular country among Russian tourists for the first nine months of 2015. However, this figure is 48 percent lower than that for the same period in 2014, which is attributed to the ruble exchange rate fluctuations, while the number of Greek tourists traveling to Russia increased by 7 percent during the same period.

In April, Russia and Greece signed a memorandum on cooperation in quantum technology. In particular, the countries plan to co-finance projects on quantum nanoelectronics, nanophotonics and metamaterials.

Interchurch ties also play an important role in the bilateral relations. In May 2012, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece went to Russia with an official visit to participate in the celebration of the 1,025th anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus. In June 2013, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made a visit to Greece and center of eastern orthodox monasticism Mount Athos. The patriarch is expected to visit Mount Athos on May 27-29 to mark the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Russian monasticism’s presence there.

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