Russia and Greece celebrated continued friendly relations late last week, as Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos completed a three-day visit to the Russian capital. During his stay Pangalos met with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, as well as with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha and the leaders of Russia’s two houses of parliament. The Foreign Ministries of the two countries signed two minor agreements.
During his stay Pangalos restated Athens’ support for a controversial deal by which Russia is to supply S-300 air defense missile complexes to Cyprus. He also dismissed–in public at least–speculation that a recent decision by Greece to purchase U.S. Patriot missiles over the Russian-made S-300s was in any way the result of pressure from Washington. He also suggested that Greece, a NATO country, would consider additional arms purchases from Russia (Russian agencies, October 21).
On October 9 the Greek government announced the US$1.2 billion deal by which it would buy the Patriots. In what seemed to be something of a consolation prize, Athens also said that it would buy twenty-one Russian Tor-M1 medium-range air defense missiles systems. That deal was estimated at about US$100 million (see the Monitor, October 12). According to the Greek ambassador to Russia, trade turnover overall between the two countries has increased rapidly in recent years and now amounts to US$1 billion (Itar-Tass, October 20-21).
YELTSIN TO CIS MINISTRY: YE HARDLY KNEW ‘EM.