EU Should Lift Anti-Russian Economic Sanctions, Greek-Russian Trade Chamber Says

The European Union’s anti-Russian sanctions and Moscow’s retaliatory embargo seriously harm the economies of the EU and Russia and must be cancelled as soon as possible, President of the Hellenic-Russian Chamber of Commerce Pantelis Skarlatos told TASS.

According to Skarlatos, the EU-Russia trade turnover, which stood at $417.66 billion in 2013, shrank to $277.79 billion in 2019.

“This trade deficit of $140 billion harms the economies of our states, it’s the money eventually lost by the peoples of Russia and Europe. Given the total sum of money lost by the trade as a result of seven years of sanctions and countermeasures, the amount of damage looks enormous. As a businessman, I personally think that sanctions and embargoes do serious damage to the economies of the European Union and Russia, to the well-being of our peoples,” he said, commenting on the present-day state of affairs of economic relations in the run-up to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s visit to Greece.

In his words, Greek farmers sustained serious losses after Russia closed its market for EU agricultural products.

“Let me remind you that the last full year of exports to Russia was 2013. At that time, exports of Greek fruits and vegetables to the country exceeded 160 mln euro. For example, deliveries of sweet cherry to Russia made up 52% of Greece’s total exports of this fruit. Russia accounted for 64% of all strawberry exports, 40% of all Greek peach exports, and so on. In certain areas of the country, the damage done to farmers as a result of the embargo is irreparable, despite support measures taken by the EU,” Skarlatos said.

In his words, huge areas of peach and nectarine gardens were cut down in Greek regions of Imathia and Pella.

“The consequences of this are yet to be fully assessed. Hopefully, the sanctions will be lifted as soon as possible. I’m not a politician to tell you when, but, as a businessman, I can say that economic losses on such a large scale entail catastrophic consequences for our economies and peoples,” he continued.

According to the president of the Hellenic-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Greek-Russian economic relations need to be taken to a new level.

“Greek-Russian economic relations are not at the level where they used to be when European sanctions and [Russia’s retaliatory] embargo was imposed. The Greek-Russian trade exceeded seven billion euro and was slightly more than the trade turnover between Germany and Greece. At present, the trade between the two states tops 4 billion euro. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for its further development under the context of the current economic reality, and we hope that the European sanctions and Russia’s countermeasures will soon be cancelled,” the Greek businessman said.

Skarlatos went on to say that Russia and Greece have huge potential for the development of bilateral economic relations, and “this dynamics can multiply with proper political support.”

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will arrive in Athens on Wednesday to take part in events marking the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence. He will also hold planned negotiations with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss essential issues of “bilateral trade and economic cooperation in the energy, industrial, transport, cultural and humanitarian and other spheres.”