The Russian Ministry of Education and Science decided to include the teaching of Greek as a second foreign language in the official curriculum of the 5th and 6th grades in primary school, and the three years in junior high school. The relevant decree was signed by Minister Olga Vasilyeva, and will take effect on January 1 2017 in all primary and secondary schools throughout the Russian Federation. Although the Greek language is only spoken in Greece and Cyprus as primary languages, the decision by the Russian government to chose it in lieu of other widely spoken languages like French or Spanish, could be interpreted as a political decision, besides the long standing cultural and religious ties between the two countries. Some pundits believe the decision was reached partly as Russia’s efforts to expand its sphere of influence in the wider Balkan region, especially in light of the signs sent by US President-elect Donald Trump that he would follow a more isolationist foreign policy. Russia had previously approved the teaching of the language at the department of modern Greek philology of the state University of Kuban in the Krasnodar region in the south of Russia, within the framework of the government’s policy to offer ethnic minorities the chance to learn their mother tongues. However, the decision was extended to include the lesson of modern Greek as the official second foreign language taught in schools, after English. The Dean of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Periklis Mitkas expressed his pleasure that the efforts made to expand the Greek language in the Black Sea regions had bore fruits. “The modern Greek textbooks the Russian students will be using are already ready”, he said.
Taught in primary and junior high school