The Greek Foreign Ministry decided not to limit itself to the expulsion of Russian diplomats and continued to fan the scandal by entering into controversy with Maria Zakharova, who was trying to defuse the situation. Athens accused the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry of misunderstanding of the Greek foreign policy and disrespect of the country's sovereignty. What is behind the sharp statements of the Greeks?
The sudden diplomatic crisis between Greece and Russia, provoked by the unprecedented demarche of Athens, was further aggravated. Russian ambassador to Athens Andrei Maslov said on Thursday that the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Greece, which was to take place in September, is no longer relevant in the current situation.
Maslov added that Moscow also decided on the expulsion of Greek diplomats. The timing and number of Greek diplomats, which Moscow will send, are still unknown.
The diplomatic scandal between Greece and Russia broke out 11 July, when the Athenian press announced the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from the country and the ban on the entry of two more. They were accused of interfering in Greek internal affairs and undermining its national security.
As the newspaper VZGLYAD wrote, the unusualness of this demarche is that earlier there was nothing like this in the bilateral relations between Moscow and Athens. If frictions arose on any issues and the question arose about the expulsion of diplomatic staff (which was also very rare), then this was given a minimum of publicity. Nevertheless, the relations in the government of Alexis Tsipras, in spite of expectations, became increasingly cool.
The very same diplomatic scandal, as the experts did not exclude, could be connected with the negotiations and the agreement between Greece and Macedonia about the change of the state's last name, which Moscow received without enthusiasm. Greek media even hastened to publish accusations against Lavrov that he allegedly threatened his Greek counterpart to block the UN Security Council agreement on the new name of Macedonia. However, on the eve of the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova called such statements absurd and nonsense, surprised that the Greek Foreign Ministry did not refute these rumors.
However, it was much more important for the Greek Foreign Ministry to engage in a squabble with Zakharova than to refute insinuations against the Russian minister. So, the Greeks were outraged that the spokeswoman, trying to smooth out the situation with the expulsion of diplomats, said: "We understand perfectly well that the pressure to which Greece was subjected was the strongest. I can say for sure that I rely on facts ... In this case it was a game in which, of course, Greece was drawn ... The game was multi-stage - we just know it. "
In the statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Zakharova's words were called an unfounded accusation, "a characteristic example of disrespect for a third country" and a testament to the lack of understanding of "a modern world in which states regardless of their size have independence and can pursue an independent, multifaceted and democratic foreign policy." This is a demonstration of the mentality of people "who do not understand the principles and values of Greek foreign policy," the Greeks continued.
The statement also says that the same "negative logic", like that of Zakharova, prompted four Russian "citizens to take actions that led to their deportation or prohibition of entry to Greece." But the grounds on which Athens operated were "timely submitted to the Russian authorities," and the Russian authorities "know very well what their people are doing." At the same time, the Foreign Ministry added, Greece sought to perceive the actions of these citizens as not having to do with official Russian foreign policy. "However, with his today's statement, the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry agrees with them and shows that she would like to legalize these illegal actions," the Greek ministry decided. They added that "permanent disrespect for Greece should cease" and "no one has the right and can not interfere in its internal affairs".
Senior Researcher of the Black Sea-Mediterranean Studies Department at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences Denis Zelikson believes that "this is a standard diplomatic practice, when a statement from a Foreign Ministry spokesman is made at a sufficiently high level, as it was in Russia."
However, according to its content, "this statement directly relates not just to Greece, it is the practice of correcting foreign policy," he told VZGLYAD, adding that such statements can not remain unanswered due to elementary diplomatic rules and practices. And the statement of the Greek Foreign Ministry is a formal reaction to the actions of the Russian ministry. There is no complex, a desire to show their independence or somehow express their grievances, the source said.
This situation can not be regarded as anti-Russian, believes Zelikson in this connection. The very logic of the development of events shows that in Greece since the emergence of the situation when they were forced to send Russian diplomats in the person of the official representative of the government, they constantly stressed that this really has a special case. And this should not affect the mutual relations of the two countries.
Zelikson is convinced that the statement of the Greek Foreign Ministry on independence is absolutely in the logic of diplomacy, since it is a reference to the basic norms of international law regarding sovereignty. Of course, the foreign policy of Greece, according to the expert, is influenced by the EU, but this should not be reduced to any impact of the individual state or individuals, since it is only the usual harmonization of the foreign policy of the participants within the framework of the integration association. With the United States, the Greeks have a tense relationship, in his words.
However, with this position, the Greek journalist Nikos Fidiropoulos strongly disagrees. If this were really just a special case, then all possible disagreements could be solved through internal channels, not publicizing and not giving public attention to the matter, Fidiropoulos told VZGLYAD. The exposure of this whole story is in conflict with the traditional relationship between the two countries, he assured.
So it can not be ruled out that by making a scandal in the public arena and continuing to inflate it, Athens wants not so much to demonstrate its independence, but rather a new, not very friendly course towards Moscow.
He is sure that such publicity was caused, inter alia, by the domestic political and economic situation in Greece. There, the so-called Macedonian card is played out as an internal political disassembly between the parties, who dream of getting to power sooner, the interlocutor explained. Fidiropoulos admitted that he was one of those who believed in the desire of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, "who managed to charm Vladimir Putin two years ago," to strengthen relations with Moscow. "Like other millions of Greeks, I saw in Cipras someone who would make every effort to lift the nation from its knees, get rid of the" three "international creditors (IMF, ECB and the European Commission - note VZGLYAD), which already make up the country's budget ". However, instead of this, relations with Russia are deteriorating, Athens is bent under all the demands of creditors and the EU.
According to him, one does not need much intelligence to see the influence on Greece from the countries of the West. "We all depend on them, from Mr. Schäuble (chairman of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble), German Chancellor Angela Merkel. What the Germans failed to do 75 years ago, they made their economic resource. And in this they were helped by individual Greek comprador politicians, "concluded Fidiropoulos.
"And when they say that Russia almost paid for millions of meetings in Athens and Thessaloniki, I want to ask why Russia needs this? You turn your head to the left, maybe this was supported by the US? Then be filled with the spirit, if you are so glad for the fact that Greece is so independent ... If you said "a", then say "b". The fact that American "comrades" interfere in all this, I have no doubts, "the journalist said, adding that Russia" recognized Skopje as Macedonia twenty years ago, what kind of pressure it could exert. "
Fidiropoulos admitted that, despite Greek citizenship, "forced to associate" with Zakharova's opinion. According to him, the decision to expel Russian diplomats "was independent at 50 percent." "The rest of 50 are obligations to the European Union and Washington," he said.
The interlocutor also was outraged by the fact that the "consul" in this whole situation is designated Consul General of Russia in Thessaloniki Alexei Popov, who "put so much effort into building relations between the countries since the Soviet times, and literally merge it." "I know Alexei Anatolyevich Popov well. He is a diplomat who devoted his entire life to Greece. And put him in a situation that he was violating something ... It does not fit into my head, "admitted Fidiropoulos.