Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Athens on Monday, at the start of the foreign official's visit to the Greek capital.
The talks of the two diplomats are focusing on bilateral relations, the Cyprus issue, developments in the Caucasus, as well as the strained relations between Greece and Turkey after Ankara announced late Saturday that it is extending by one week a gas exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean.
The meeting will be followed by statements to the press.
Lavrov is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at 5 p.m. and main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras at 6 p.m. at the Russian embassy.
Lavrov: Every country has right to territorial waters of 12 nautical miles
Every state has the sovereign right to extend its territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the state-run news agency ANA-MPA published on Monday, ahead of his visit to Athens later in the day.
The right is based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, to which Russia is a signatory, Lavrov said, adding that issues concerning the delimitation of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between neighbouring countries should be resolved according to international law.
Asked about the recent re-conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the Russian minister said the building is a UNESCO world heritage site belonging to all humanity and has "exceptional cultural and historic value", while it is sacred to those of the Orthodox faith.
He also expressed "serious concern" over Turkey's decision to open up the beach front in Varosha in the occupied northern part of Cyprus, noting that it is againt a series UN Security Council resolutions and added that unilateral actions obstruct efforts to establish a constructive climate and create additional problems to the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus issue.
Asked about Turkey's involvement in the Nagorno-Karbakh conflict, Syria and Libya, he said the Russia and Turkey are working toward a settlement of the conflicts in all these regions, noting that the positions of the two coutnries on the resolution of specific regional confrontations may, for objective reasons, be completely different. Specifically he pointed out that in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh the approaches of Russia and Turkey had their own "nuances".
On bilateral trade and economic relations he said that both countries have to work hard to restore the volume of trade that existed before the start of the pandemic, adding that he is looking forward to an in-depth discussion on the specific issue during his visit to Greece.
Lavrov finally expressed his gratitude to Greece for its support during the repatriation of Russian citizens during the first wave of the pandemic.