ATHENS, October 30 (RIA Novosti) – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pledged Russian help for Greece during a visit to Athens on Wednesday and highlighted the benefits to be reaped from collaboration on Greece’s privatization plans.
Crisis-hit Greece, which will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January, is currently looking to drum up interest among international investors for its large state asset selloff.
“I hope the further deepening of our economic partnership can facilitate the realization of those steps set by the government of Greece to overcome the crisis,” Lavrov said.
“There is mutual interest on both sides to reach agreements within the context of privatization plans.”
Cash-rich Russian companies have used European economic problems as an opportunity to snap up cheap assets, and have expressed interest in Greek ports, railways, airports, and the tourism and hotel industries.
But flagship privatizations of Greek gas companies DEPA and DESFA failed earlier this year despite interest from Russian state-owned Gazprom. US and EU officials reportedly warned Greece against selling the assets to Gazprom, which could have used them to increase its dominance of European markets.
Russia and Greece share a common Orthodox faith, and there are about 190,000 ethnic and Pontic Greeks living in Russia, mainly in the south near the Black Sea coast.
The value of trade between the two countries last year was about $6.5 billion.