Greece has hit back at Russia over Moscow’s recent expulsion of Greek diplomats, pointedly referring to it as a “comrade in arms” of regional rival Turkey.
In a statement on Friday, the Greek Foreign Ministry said the “retaliatory” move by Russia had been made by a country “unable to understand Greek foreign policy’s principled positions”.
Relations between the two states have worsened in recent weeks after Greece expelled two Russian diplomatic staff and barred entry to two more Russian nationals amid claims Moscow was meddling in the name deal between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said “no country in the world would tolerate attempts to a) bribe state officials, b) undermine its foreign policy, and c) interfere in its internal affairs”.
It hit out at Russia, saying: “Since it began fighting as a comrade in arms with Turkey, providing it with a number of facilitations in the security sector, it appears to be steadily distancing itself from positions befitting the level of friendship and cooperation that has characterized Greek-Russian relations for the past 190 years.
“It appears not to understand that Greece has its own interests and criteria in international politics.
“It is in this context that one ought to read Russia’s decision to expel personnel of the Greek Embassy in Moscow. The decision by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, unlike the Greek side’s decision which was based on specific evidence of illegal and irregular activities of Russian officials and citizens within Greece, was not based on evidence.
“On the contrary, the Russian side’s decision is arbitrary, retaliatory and not based on any evidence.”
The statement also referred to the “‘Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society’ in Greece, an organization created by the czars’ secret services in the 19th century with a view to de-Hellenize the patriarchates of the Middle East”.
However, no mention was made of claims this week that Russian Orthodox priests are being denied Schengen visas by the Greek authorities.