Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Greek prime minister to visit Russia for talks on tanks and pipeline

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due in Moscow on Monday for an official visit focused on expanding energy and military cooperation between Russia and NATO member Greece.

The three-day trip will include talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid ongoing negotiations for Greece to buy more than 400 Russian tanks.

Defense officials have announced few details of the possible deal, but state television and other Greek media said the government plans to spend €1.2 billion (US$1.7 billion) on buying BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles.

The negotiations will take place amid fresh strain between Moscow and NATO countries after Russia suspended participation this week in the Conventional Forces in Europe arms control treaty.

Greece remains keen to keep pace in military development with regional rival Turkey. It has added Russian weapons to its arsenal to diversify its armed forces, including the S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

On Friday, Karamanlis rejected suggestions he was trying to appease Moscow with the tank deal after supporting a pipeline project that would compete with Russian suppliers and eventually transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Italy.

Greek and Turkish leaders inaugurated a section of that pipeline last month.

"There is no deal under the table, over the table, or on the side of the table," Karamanlis said. "Our defense cooperation with Russia goes back many years ... This (deal) is in the interest of the country as well as the treasury because cost is also a factor."

He added: "We have broad energy cooperation with Russia which is going very well."

Greece imports Russian natural gas and in March Putin signed a deal in Athens to promote construction of a 280-kilometer (175-mile) Russian oil pipeline from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece.

Putin has visited Greece three times since 2005 and developed a close relationship with Karamanlis.

During devastating wildfires in Greece this summer, Karamanlis called on Putin for urgent assistance. Russian sent firefighting planes and helicopters to help Greek firefighters.

1 comment:

EPONA said...

For the visit of Greek Prime Minister Mr Karamanlis in Ankara (Turkey)

19th of May has been fixed as a Memorial Day for the Greek genocide victims of Pontos with unanimous decision of the Greek Parliament in February of 1994.
For that, in aspect of imminent visit of Prime Minister of Greece Mr Karamanlis in Turkey during 23-25 January, the Pontian Youth Union of Athens intensely demands the existence of discussion on the recognition of the genocide of Greeks of Pontos from Turkey, such as this fact is related to the Greek-Turkish relations and the course of integration of Turkey in the European Union.

1. We call the Greek government to include the genocide of Greeks of Pontos in the bilateral discussions with the neighbour country.

2. We remind the real face of Turkish Kemal that is accountable for the Armenian, the Pontians, the Kurdish genocide as well as the Cyprus question. We underline the refusal of this country to keep pace into practice with the remainder European countries.

3. We appear the form of big scholar, humanist Vissariona. The Trabzon foundation of the Academies and libraries in Italy as Markian in Venice, former of European idea, reminding that European culture means freedom of speech, letters, arts, libraries and universities.

4. We notify that very recently another one union of scientists, the I.A.G.S. – International Association of Genocide Scholars with central offices in New York, recognized the genocide of Greeks of Pontos during the years 1914-1923, accepting the existence of sufficient proofs for the documentation of subject.

5. We consider obvious that the Prime Minister Mr Karamanlis will not proceed in the erroneous action of laying wreath in the grave of Kemal Atatourk, responsible for the genocide of populations of Minor Asia.

We demand the establishment of 19 May as European remembrance day for Pontian genocide and all of Kemalism victims.