Greece–Russia relations refer to bilateral foreign relations between Greece and Russia. Due to the strong historical friendship and the deep cultural and religious ties between the two nations, (the majority of Greeks and Russians practice the Eastern Orthodox faith), Greece and Russia enjoy excellent diplomatic relations. Both countries also share common political views about the Balkans and the world, with Greece being a strong supporter of Russia's stance on the Kosovo Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Diplomatic relations were established in 1828. Both Greece and Russia are full members of many organizations, including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
Due to the cultural, religious and historical ties between the two nations, from medieval to modern times (Byzantine Empire and Kievan Rus' comprised part of what today is known as the Eastern Orthodoxy), Greece and Russia today enjoy strong diplomatic relations and consider each other a brother nation. Russia assisted Greece in the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. Today, many Greeks live in the Russian Federation and many Russians live in Greece. Most Greeks live in the Russian Black Sea region (100,000) with large concentrations in capital Moscow (80,000) and St. Petersburg (3,000), while many Russians live mostly in the Khalkidiki region and the Greek isle of Crete.
Diplomatic relations were established in 1828. Greece has an embassy in Moscow, and two General Consulates (Saint Petersburg and Novorossiysk). Russia has an Embassy in Athens, a General Consulate in Thessaloniki and in 2012 announced to open an honorary consulate in Alexandroupolis. Greece also announced to open another consulate general in Yekaterinburg.
Bilateral relations and cooperation
Despite Greece's membership in the EU and NATO, the country's friendship with Russia has many years of fine traditions. Due to the common interests and shared religious heritage of both countries, Greece and Russia enjoy excellent relations which is reflected by the fact that both states are co-operating in several fields, and especially in trade, culture, energy, military and tourism. There are regular high-level visits between the two countries, and frequent contacts between the ruling political parties (especially between the New Democracy (Greece) and the United Russia), as well as between the ministries and agencies, on various matters concerning individual sectors.
Greece is one of the few pre-1990 NATO member countries (alongside Germany for a time) that makes extensive use of Russian weapons. Greece first received many Soviet-era surplus weapons, such as BMP-1 armoured fighting vehicles, RM-70 rocket launchers, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns and SA-8 anti-aircraft missile systems from the former East German National People's Army inventory in the early 1990s. Since then, Greece has additionally procured the TOR M-1 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (the latter originally destined for Cyprus), the Kornet-E anti-tank missile, AK-74M assault rifles and ZUBR hovercrafts. The militaries of both countries also participate in programmes of military cooperation in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, as well as giving military support and training to countries that they have close relations with, such as Armenia, with Greece often accepting Armenian military officials in the Hellenic Military Academy.
The Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline was proposed in 1993–1994 by several Russian and Greek companies. In 1994, for construction of the pipeline Greece and Bulgaria signed a bilateral agreement, followed by a memorandum of cooperation, signed by Greece and Russia.
In February 1998, a Greek consortium for pipeline construction named Bapline was established, and in May 1998, a memorandum of creation of the Transbalkan Oil Pipeline Company was signed. In 2000, a technical specifications and an economic evaluation of the project were prepared by the German company ILF. A joint protocol for preparing the pipeline's construction was signed by the three countries in January 2005.
The political memorandum between both governments was signed on 12 April 2005. An inter-governmental agreement on the project was agreed on 7 February 2007, and it was signed on 15 March 2007 in Athens, by the involved ministers of the three countries, under the presence of their leaders, Vladimir Putin (Russian president), Sergei Stanishev (Bulgarian prime-minister), and Kostas Karamanlis (prime-minister of Greece).
The agreement establishing the international project company was signed in Moscow on 18 December 2007 and the company, called Trans-Balkan Pipeline B.V., was incorporated in the Netherlands on 6 February 2008. Construction of the pipeline is scheduled to start in October 2009, and is estimated to be completed by 2011.
Religious and cultural relations
The religious ties between the two nations with majorities of both countries adhering to the Eastern Orthodox Church, has played a major role in Greek–Russian relations. Since its formation in 1994, the Athens-based Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy has become a relevant institution in promoting exchange and cooperation. According to a Pew Research Center opinion poll taken in 2013, 63% of Greeks view Russia favorably versus 33% expressing a negative opinion.
The following agreements are in place:
- Friendship and Cooperation Agreement (1993)
- Agreement on Economic, Industrial, Technological, and Scientific Cooperation (1993)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Greece–Russia relations.|
- "Bilateral relations between Russia and Greece". Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- "Burgas-Alexandrupolis Pipeline Project". Transneft. Archived from the original on 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
- Peggy Papakosta. "Everybody wins". Bridge Magazine. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
- "Greece, Russia, Bulgaria move closer to building Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline". Embassy of Greece to the United States. 2005-01-29. Retrieved 2006-05-07.
- "Bulgaria, Greece, Russia finalize details on long-awaited pipeline deal". Associated Press. 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- "Burgas-Alexandroupolis project getting underway, but many questions remain". RBC Daily. 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
- "Russian President Vladimir Putin in Greece next week for pipeline deal". Athens News Agency. March 7, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be visiting Greece on March 15 to participate in a Russo-Bulgarian-Greek conference, after visiting Italy on March 13–14 for a Russo-Italian conference, the Kremlin announced late on Tuesday, according to a dispatch by the Agence France Press (AFP) agency.
- "Trans-Balkan partners form operator". Upstream Online. NHST Media Group. 2007-12-18. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- "Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline Hit By Delays". Downstream Today. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- "Global Opinion of Russia Mixed | Pew Research Center". Pewglobal.org. Retrieved 2016-11-07.