Now that Russia and Greece are no longer divided by ideological barriers, "the geopolitical basis of our interaction is beginning to play the befitting role," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Athens on Thursday following Russian-Greek negotiations at summit level. According to Putin, the views of Russia and Greece on the situation in the world coincide on a majority of issues. The head of the Russian state said that since the Greek president's visit to Moscow in the summer of last year interaction between the two countries "has been markedly stepped up." In particular, bilateral trade has increased almost 40 percent, and the countries "have agreed on cooperation in a number of promising areas: transport infrastructure, power engineering, and high technologies." "Russian enterprises are ready to participate in the liberalisation of the Greek economy, above all in power engineering," the Russian president said. The two countries continue cooperating fruitfully also on the international scene. Russia "hopes that in 2003, when Greece will hold the presidency in the European Council, our interaction with united Europe will be given a boost," Putin said. He noted that Russia keeps a watch on Greece's preparations for the 2004 Olympics and that it "is ready to assist" these preparations. Putin expressed confidence that the Greek government will "do its best to hold the Olympic Games at a very high level."
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea