Athens counting on increased Russian presence in European security

During talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov, Greek Defence Minister Yiannos Papandoniou today announced that Russia would play a greater role in European security structures while Greece holds the EU rotating chair.

"We believe that Russia, as a European country sharing the same values as us, should participate in all the main international and European organisations," the Greek minister said. He reminded those present that Greece had made great efforts to secure Russia's co-operation with NATO, first of all in the defence and peacekeeping spheres.

He also reported that new European military contingents were already in Kenya and the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia, while such bodies would take part in solving crisis situation and support peace both as part of NATO and outside it.

In his turn, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said that the development of Russo-Greek relations both in general and in the sphere of military-technical co-operation was "very positive." Ivanov stressed that meetings with his Greek counterpart would be held regularly, thereby allowing plans for the further development of military ties to be discussed.

The Russian minister also announced that Greece's "active chairmanship of the European Union had not gone unnoticed." He called the growing interaction between Russia and the EU in the security sphere entirely positive.

Ivanov is intending to discuss not only pressing issues in bilateral relations with his Greek counterpart, but also the situations in different hot spots that are of concern to both Russia and Greece.

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