Respect Greece, says Greek FM to Russian Federation

Lester Mason
July 21, 2018

A war of words erupted on Wednesday between the foreign ministries of Greece and Russia over the expulsion last week of Russian diplomats who Athens has accused of trying to whip up opposition to the Macedonia name deal that paved the way for Skopje's induction to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Athens made a decision to expel two Russian diplomats and ban another two from entering the country this July, accusing them of intrusion into domestic affairs as well as for illegal acts against national security.

The controversial name change must be formally ratified before the country can join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a move that would require approval in a referendum in Macedonia this fall and in both the Greek and Macedonian parliaments.

Moscow understands that strong pressure was put on Greece to make it expel Russian diplomats, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

The Greek actions "will not remain without consequences", she said, but did not elaborate.

But Zakharova's remarks prompted an angry response from the Greek Foreign Ministry. The evidence, on the basis of which Greece acted, was presented to the Russian authorities in a timely manner. It added that the Russian authorities "are very well aware of what their people do" and said they seemed "to want to legitimize these illegal actions".

As Greek news media referred to a "Siberian chill" in bilateral relations, Athens answered with a strongly worded statement accusing Moscow of "constant disrespect for Greece". "No one can or has the right to interfere in Greece's domestic affairs", the ministry said.

Despite its support for NATO's expansion, Greece's left-wing government has advocated improved relations between Russian Federation and the West.

Russia will expel Greek diplomats, the dates of their expulsion and the number of diplomats due to be expelled are unknown yet, Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrei Maslov informed TASS on Thursday.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders at a summit last week formally invited Macedonia to become the 30th member of the alliance.

Gatopoulos reported from Athens, Greece.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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