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Greece to expel two Russian diplomats, ban two others - newspaper


The move comes after perceived attempts by the Russians to undermine a deal Greece brokered with neighboring FYR Macedonia. Russia has vowed to respond in kind.

Greece will expel two Russian diplomats and ban the entry of two others for meddling in its domestic affairs and illegal acts against Greece's national security, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Wednesday.

Athens has accused the Russian diplomats of efforts to extract and circulate information, and to bribe Greek officials, the newspaper reported, citing "high-level Greek diplomatic sources."

Greece will not tolerate any behavior which violates international law, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said, when asked about the report during a TV interview on Wednesday.

Russia's foreign ministry said it would respond in kind to the expulsions, the Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow will respond to the expulsions by expelling two Greek diplomats, Russian state-owned RIA news agency reported, citing a member of the upper house of parliament, Andrei Klimov.

Among other things, the diplomats are suspected of undermining an agreement between Athens and its neighbor the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia last month which ended a decades-old diplomatic standoff over the country's name, the newspaper said.

Macedonia: What's in a name?
The Republic of Northern Macedonia

For decades Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) had a contentious relationship over the name. When Yugoslavia broke up Macedonia declared its independence and took the name Republic of Macedonia, Greece objected as its northern region is also called Macedonia. In 2018, the two countries settled the dispute and Macedonia is now known as The Republic of Nothern Macedonia.

Macedonia: What's in a name?
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

The Irish have long had a contentious relationship with the United Kingdom. While Ireland was for centuries part of the UK, the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 gave Ireland complete independence in its home affairs but an opt-out clause allowed Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom.

Macedonia: What's in a name?
Islands worth going to war over

The islands in the southern Atlantic have had French, British, Spanish and Argentinian settlements. The British refer to the archipelago as the Falkland Islands and reasserted its rule over them in 1833. Argentina maintains that the islands are called the Islas Malvinas and are a part of its territory. In 1982, Argentina invaded the islands until a British force retook the territories.

Macedonia: What's in a name?
Senkau or Diaoyu?

The small group of islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea has long been a sore point between Japan and China. China claims it discovered what it calls the Diaoyu islands in the 14th century. After World War II, the US administered the island but returned control to Japan in 1972. With the discovery of oil reserves in 1968, ownership is now once again an issue.

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The deal is likely to facilitate Macedonia's entry into NATO, which would be a major setback for Russia which is jostling with the West for influence in the region.

Macedonia is expected to get an invitation to join NATO during a summit of the the nearly 70-year-old alliance in Brussels starting Wednesday.

ap/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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