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Putin Calls For Revival Of Ties With Europe Ahead Of Greek Visit

May 27, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the revival of relations between Moscow and European Union on the eve of his first visit to the bloc this year.

Before starting a two-day trip to Greece on May 27, Putin called for an energy alliance with the EU and the relaxation of visa rules for Russians travelling to the EU, despite the EU's economic sanctions against Moscow for its aggressions in Ukraine.

"We believe our relations with the EU do not face any problems that we cannot solve," Putin said in an article in the Greek daily Kathimerini on May 26. "A rightful position of the Old Continent in the new international realities can only be secured by combining capacities of all European countries, including Russia."

Greece and Russia will sign a "number of bilateral agreements" on trade and the economy during the visit, the Kremlin said.

Putin is due to meet Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on May 27.

Putin and Tsipras will unveil a famous icon by Andrei Rublev, the Ascension, which is on loan from Russia's Tretyakov Gallery to Greece's Byzantine and Christian Museum.

On May 28, he celebrates the 1,000th anniversary of the Russian presence at the ancient monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites.

Putin in the Kathimerini article said Russia remains interested in developing the South Stream gas pipeline from Russia to southern Europe via the Black Sea.

"Currently the work on projected gas supplies from Russia to Greece and Italy via third countries is on, meaning that the pipeline will cross the Black Sea and will run through one of the coastal countries, probably Bulgaria, further on to Greece and Italy," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said.

Athens "still favors reviving South Stream in one form or another" despite opposition elsewhere in the EU, he said.

After talks between the two countries, they are expected to sign an agreement between Rosneft and Hellenic petrolеum on supplies of oil products to Greece.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, TASS, and Interfax

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/putin-calls- revival-ties-with-europe-ahead-greek-visit- despite-eu-sanctions/27760334.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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