Greek Ambassador to Russia Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou: Sanctions not an end in itself, EU counts on diplomatic solution
Greek Ambassador to Russia Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou has given an interview with Interfax in which she speaks about Russian-Greek interaction following the aggravation of relations between the European Union and Russia, her perception of EU sanctions against Russia and the upcoming high tourist season.Question: The Crimean situation has aggravated Russian-EU relationships. How serious was its impact on Russian-Greek relations? Did one have to stop any significant joint projects?
Answer: No. Things are proceeding normally. We are keeping consultations that have been scheduled. We of course are proceeding with preparations to 2016 which is going to be a Year of the Russian Federation to Greece and of Greece to the Russian Federation, it is going to be a cross year. So people are coming and going, we are in very close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of course and the Ministry of Culture. Slowly but stably we are making the necessary connections to be able to push with programming of manifestations and events that we will agree.
Q.: Are there any specific plans for this cross year?
A.: There are many. When those are finalized - hopefully this year - I believe we will make a joint announcement for that. It’s a wonderful project, and we are very happy to have agreed and we hope a lot will be done given this opportunity.
Q.: Will there be something about ancient Greece culture?
A.: Yes, of course there are going to be exhibitions and various cultural events, but not only. In our scope remains a possibility to get to know regions of Russia and regions of Greece better, make the necessary connections and help people work jointly in presenting let say particular interests in tourism, in economy, in commerce, in production and in culture of course. We believe it‘s a good opportunity to get to know each other even better and enhance modern connections considering history, we are very close to known each other, but there is always an additional need for modern achievements to be known fr om each other. So 2016 is a wonderful opportunity for this.
Q.: Are you going to bring some original pieces of ancient art?
A.: I believe so. I very much believe so.
Q.: Greece is one of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists. Should Russians be afraid of difficulties in acquiring Schengen visas at Greek consulates over EU sanctions against Russian ahead of the high tourist season?
A.: I believe it‘s becoming more and more clear that these policy and regime concerning Russian citizens have not been changed at all and that our demarche remains inclusive and liberal and it has always been in as much as we believe that Greece in particular presents a very interesting tourist package for Russian tourists. Services that we provide for the Schengen visa are very reliable and fast. We are very happy to confirm that this year also we remained very popular. So far figures show this year that we keep the last year‘s numbers with a plus and we hope that this positive trend will continue. At the end of the season we will show better results than last year despite some difficulties one may attribute to the let say slight weakening of the ruble vis-