Russian President Vladimir Putin began a two day visit to Greece Friday to negotiate a Black Sea gas pipeline to Athens and to take an official trip to Mount Athos, home to a landmark Christian Orthodox monastery.
Regarding Putin’s first visit to the EU in 2016, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said, “your visit is taking place in a situation exceptionally critical in many respects for our region and for all of Europe. Such a situation has been prompted by a critical international attitude toward your great power.”
“We will have the opportunity to show in our turbulent time that the principles and values of Christianity and Orthodoxy can and should inspire the nations all over the world and their leaders to [believe in] the triumph of humanism, solidarity, justice, and peace in making any decision on the future of each nation and ultimately all of humankind,” Russia Beyond The Headlines quoted Pavlopoulos specifically saying in regard to Putin’s Mount Athos visit.
Putin, traveling with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and top executives from state oil and gas companies, was welcomed at Athen’s Airport by Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who escorted the Russian delegation to a meeting with his Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“These are difficult times for everyone — in terms of the economy and international security,” The Washington Post quoted Putin saying as he spoke with Pavlopoulos. “We must examine these problems and look for a solution. It is not a coincidence that an opportunity for this has arisen in Greece — a country with which we have deep and historic ties,” he said.
The Russia delegation met Friday afternoon with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras previously travelled to Moscow in April to meet with Putin. RT reported that the two discussed a potential Russian funded bailout for Greece, and future bilateral energy cooperations. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov floated the idea of a bailout following Tsipras’ Syriza party elections victory in January.
In February Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Zeit online in an interview that his country “will never ask for financial assistance from Moscow.”
On March 30, Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis travelled to Moscow to meet with Russian counterpart Aleksandr Novak and Gazprom head Aleksey Miller to discuss a gas discount for Greece as well as the ‘take-or-pay’ clause, which requires Athens to buy gas it may not use.
On Friday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told TASS that the bilateral energy negotiations would include a natural gas pipeline which would prospectively span across the Black Sea to Greece and Italy, passing through either Turkey or Bulgaria.
“Obviously, considering arrangements and signed memorandum on construction and supplies via the subsea portion of Poseidon pipeline, various gas delivery routes may be considered, including options either through Turkey or Bulgaria,” Novak said.
TASS reported on Thursday that the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev expects their feasibility study for the Black Sea gas pipeline project to be ready before the end of 2016.
Novak noted that the Greek-Russian pipeline would not interfere with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, a gas pipeline which will transport Russia’s main export from the Caspian Region to the Middle East.
“I may say this is a fairly small volume for Europe. As far as TAP is concerned, these volumes are not above 10 bln cubic meters of gas for the time being and in the longer run by 2019. Certainly, the European consumer needs greater gas volumes and diversification of routes,” Novak said.
Though Greece is currently involved in the EU’s sanctions against Russia, Greece has been hit especially hard by Moscow’s food ban, as more than 40 percent of Greek exports to Russia are agricultural products. In 2013, more than €178 million in fruits and conserves were exported to Russia, according to Greece’ fruit exports association, Incofruit-Hellas.
Aside from the energy negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be joined by the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, in a historic visit to the Monastery of St. Panteleimon. WaPost reported that Patriarch Kirill arrived in Northern Greece Friday, independent of the main Russian delegation. A picture posted to the twitter account of Greek AP reporter Costas Kantouris Friday shows Patriarch Krill exiting a boat onto a concrete dock, with an entourage and military escort. This could very well be the dock to Mount Athos, though no official confirmation has been issued.
St. Panteleimon is part of the 1,000-year-old Mount Athos Christian Orthodox monastic community. In an OP-ed from AP published through The Washington Times Friday, Mount Athos is described as “a spiritual ark of Eastern Christianity”, where 1,500 male monks reside divided among 20 fortified monasteries. Only accessible by sea and special invitation, the male only religious landmark
The article also included a brief history and overviews of Mount Athos and its monasteries inhabitants:
“Wars and pirate attacks left the peninsula largely deserted after the end of the ancient world. Monks first settled there before the 8th century, and the first monastery was founded in the 10th century. Byzantine emperors in Constantinople – whose Patriarch still leads the Mount Athos community on religious matters – encouraged the settlement, heaping treasures, protection and privileges on the monasteries. The monks also managed to keep on the good side of Greece’s Turkish rulers and to avoid interference during Greece’s World War II German occupation.”
As for life in the monasteries AP reporter Nicholas Paphitis wrote:
“Mount Athos still follows the Julian calendar, and is 13 days behind the rest of the world. Monks – and visitors – start their day at 4 a.m., and monasteries bar their doors to all after sunset. Meat is banned but the use of the internet and mobile phones is permissible. Monks spend their days in prayer and communal work, including agriculture.”
There is also a deep Russian connection to the site, as many Russians are practicing Orthodox Christians who revere Mount Athos as one of the most sacred sites in the world. Russian monks first settled on the historic mound in 1016, which this year marks its 1,000th anniversary.
The year 2016 marks the 1,000th anniversary of the first recorded settlement there by Russian monks, in 1016. The 20 monasteries on the peninsula include one Russian, one Serbian and one Bulgarian, while Romanians, Moldovans, Ukrainians and Georgians also live there.
SAINT PAISIOS CONNECTION
On March 7th TRUNEWS reported that a Greek prophecy from a resident of Mount Athos related to this historic visit was seeing a revival. Greek prophet Saint Paisios said before he died that Russia will defeat Turkey in a great war and will give Constantinople to his nation, forging a ‘Greater Greece’.
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos predicted:
“Events will start that will culminate with us taking back Constantinople. Constantinople will be given to us. There will be war between Russia and Turkey. In the beginning the Turks will believe they are winning, but this will lead to their destruction. The Russians, eventually, will win and take over Constantinople. After that it will be ours. They will be forced to give it to us. [Turkey] will be destroyed. They will be eradicated because they are a nation that was built without God’s blessing. One third of the Turks will go back to where they came from, the depths of Turkey. One third will be saved because they will become Christians, and the other third will be killed in this war.”
The prophecy of the ascetic monk born Arsenios Eznepidis, gained attention following the downing of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber by Turkey on Nov. 24th 2015, which has since escalated tensions between the two nations.
Before his death in the summer of 1994, Paisios reposed his prediction, stating:
“I wanted nothing else but God to keep me alive for a few more years so I could see my country expand. And it will expand. Turkey will be dissected. This will be to our benefit as a nation. This way our villages will be liberated, our enslaved homelands. Constantinople will be liberated, will become Greek again. Hagia Sophia will open again. Turkey will be dissected in 3 or 4 parts. The countdown has begun. We will take the lands that belong to us, the Armenians will take theirs and the Kurds their own. The Kurdish issue is at the works. As long as there is faith and hope in God, a lot of people will rejoice. All that will happen in these years. The time has come.”
TRUNEWS has previously reported on the major shift Russia has taken back toward Orthodox Christianity post-communism. On April 28th we reported on the results from a poll conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) which showed that sixty-seven percent of Russians hope for God’s help in their daily life.
This undeniable shift back to God has even prompted TRUNEWS President Pastor Rick Wiles to say that America should be allied with the Russians instead of instigating a nuclear confrontation with this cold war adversary, especially since this nation clearly has far more in common with America’s Christian core than our Islamic Jihadist allies in Saudi Arabia.
Could this historic visit signify the beginning of a military alliance between Greece and Russia, one which may bring Saint Paisios’ prediction to fruition?