Russian foreign minister in Athens

Oct 30, 2013, 6:29 AM EDT
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry (not seen) in Geneva on September 14, 2013 after they met for talks on Syria's chemical weapons. Washington and Moscow have agreed a deal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, Kerry said after talks with Lavrov.
AFP/Getty Images

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Greece for an official visit expected to focus on energy and Athens' ambitious but slow-moving privatization program.

Lavrov has appointments Wednesday with President Karolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos as Greece prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January.

Greece has backed a winning energy project, known as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan over its territory and neighboring Albania to Italy, in competition with current Russian-dominated networks.

The crisis-hit country, in its sixth year of recession, is also struggling to raise support from international investors to buy former state-run companies and utilities. Russian companies have reportedly expressed interest in Greek plans to privatize its railways.