President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos (retranslated): Mr President, I am particularly pleased to welcome you to the Presidential Palace of our Republic. I welcome you, the President and the leader of Russia, a great and friendly power.
Your visit takes place amid an exceptionally crisis-ridden situation, in many respects, in our region and in all of Europe. This situation, in light of the overwhelming influence of your great nation, Russia, obliges me to note the following two extremely important consequences of your visit, without in any way diminishing your talks on multi-level bilateral cooperation, which you will have later with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
First, your visit takes place during the reciprocal Year of Culture between Greece and Russia. Visiting Mount Athos, the cradle of Orthodox Christianity, is an important part of your tour. We will have an opportunity to see, in our tumultuous times, as I have already pointed out, how the tenets and values of Christianity in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular can and should inspire the peoples of the world and their leaders to seek the triumph of humanism, solidarity, justice and peace in any important decision they take on the future of their nations and, ultimately, all of humanity.
Second, since we are talking about the ultimate blessing of peace, your visit gives me a chance to underscore yet again, as I did during our meeting in Moscow, the importance of close and sincere cooperation between Russia, the United States, and the European Union to bring the war in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, to an end. This is the only outcome that can lead, on the one hand, to an effective resolution of the acute refugee problem with full respect for human values and, on the other hand, can completely eradicate ISIS jihadi terrorism, the epitome of a new and heinous barbarism, whose members commit crimes against humanity.
Welcome, Mr President. I assure you that your presence here is the culmination of centuries of sincere and exceptionally productive friendship between our countries and peoples.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
First of all, I would like to thank the entire Greek leadership for the invitation.
Indeed, we are going through hard times due to economic and international security issues. I think it is very important to compare notes, as they say, to talk, to discuss all these issues and look for solutions. It is meaningful that we are able to do this in Greece, a country that is linked with Russia by deep and long-standing spiritual ties.
During your visit, we announced the start of the Year of Russia in Greece and the Year of Greece in Russia. We can look at the events planned in this context and, as you rightly said, look back to our common roots.
I am grateful to you, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Ecumenical Patriarch for supporting my future visit to Mount Athos. This is very important for us: Russian monks have been there for about a thousand years. The exact dates are probably not as important as our shared moral and spiritual values.
Naturally, we are happy to have this opportunity to talk with you aboout developing economic relations. As you noted, we will discuss this in greater detail with your Prime Minister.
There are certain problems but there are some impressive achievements as well: last March the number of Russian tourists in Greece grew by 523 percent. We can do a lot more, and not only in tourism but in other areas as well.
I think it is especially important to discuss all these opportunities today and map out specific steps to take advantage of them.