Greece and Russia appeared set yesterday to boost bilateral military-technical cooperation, as visiting Greek Defense Minister Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos completed the second of three days of high-level talks in the Russian capital. The Greek minister’s talks yesterday with his Russian counterpart, acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, followed a meeting one day earlier between Tsochatzopoulos and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Those talks were held behind closed doors. Little information of their content was made public.
Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky did suggest, however, that the meeting with Yeltsin was arranged to highlight the importance that Russia attaches to military cooperation between the two countries. Russian news sources reported that the Greek government viewed the meeting in a similar light. In comments to the press yesterday, Sergeev made the same point. He said that Yeltsin’s meeting with Tsochatzopoulos — the first time this year that Yeltsin has personally received a foreign defense minister — reflected the importance the two countries attach to bilateral military cooperation.
Although Yastrzhembsky had nothing to say about possible arms dealings being discussed during Yeltsin’s meeting with Tsochatzopoulos, the spokesman did say that Yeltsin had given assurances that Moscow would follow through with a controversial agreement to supply Russian S-300 antiaircraft missiles to Cyprus. That deal, announced early last year, has angered Turkey and caused consternation in Washington. Yeltsin and Tsochatzopoulos reportedly also underscored that Russia and Greece share common views on the issues of Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq, though Yastrzhembsky provided none of the relevant details. Tsochatzopoulos also indicated that Greece supports Russia’s opposition to restrictions imposed by Turkey on shipping through the Turkish Straits, Yastrzhembsky said. (Russian agencies, March 31)
Greek-Russian Arms Talks.