Greece and Russia to normalise relations after spat over Macedonia

Greece and Russia to normalise relations after spat over Macedonia

Today, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will travel to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin and officially normalise diplomatic relations

tsipiras putin russia greece

Photo: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Today, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will travel to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin and officially normalise diplomatic relations after tit-for-tat expulsions of officials in July and August.

In July, Athens accused the Kremlin of fomenting opposition among nationalist Greeks to an agreement between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia over the latter’s name-change to “North Macedonia”, a charge Moscow denies. The agreement has seen Greece drop its opposition to Macedonia’s joining NATO—a blow to Russia’s efforts to curtail the Organisation’s expansion.

However, Tsipras’ government moved quickly to mend fences, highlighting that it valued Greco-Russian ties. In October, under pressure from staunch anti-deal nationalists in the coalition, Greece’s foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias—the architect of the deal and leading critic of Moscow—resigned, helping to restore relations.

The Kremlin will welcome the return of cordial relations with Athens as Greece is often regarded as a Russia-friendly voice within institutions such as the EU and NATO. Moscow’s ambitions to stop NATO expansion will now likely focus on Macedonia’s constitutional process and other Eastern European nations still within its orbit, particularly in the Balkans.

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