ATHENS — Moscow's envoy to Athens has a familar name--Andropov--and an unusual style that has puzzled some Western diplomats and delighted some Greeks.
Igor Y. Andropov, the tall, bespectacled 43-year-old son of late Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov, became the star attraction on the Greek capital's social circuit when he took up his first ambassador's posting here last October.
A Greek Foreign Ministry official who declined to be named said: "We're delighted to have a personality of Andropov's stature as the Soviet envoy to Greece."
Western diplomats, who are closely watching Andropov, describe his appointment as the Soviet envoy to Greece--a NATO member--as "a very intelligent propaganda move."
"Andropov's appearance here is a flattering sign that Greece is being taken more seriously by the Kremlin--and a reward for the Socialist government's expressions of support for Soviet positions on a number of international issues," said one diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In its 39 months in office, Premier Andreas Papandreou's ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement has energetically cultivated relations with Moscow, and has been sharply criticized by the United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization members for pro-Soviet statements.
Papandreou has praised the Soviet Union as "a force that prevents the spread of capitalism," accused the United States of starting the arms race and told Socialist members of Parliament that the South Korean jetliner shot down by the Soviets may have been on a spy mission for the CIA.
Andropov's effect on Soviet-Greek relations, at the moment, is unknown. Despite Andropov's origins, the Greek Foreign Ministry official said the ambassador is "far too young" to wield much political influence in the Kremlin.
Andropov, among the most youthful of Soviet ambassadors, has impressed Greeks with his willingness to ignore protocol and meet with with middle-level officials regularly.
"My first contact with Greeks persuaded me that they're friendly and hospitable--you want to work and cooperate with them," Andropov said in an interview with Rizospastis, the Moscow-line Greek Communist Party's daily newspaper.
Invitations to the Soviet Embassy, a modern marble-fronted complex set in a walled compound in the fashionable Psychico suburb, are eagerly sought. Even staunchly conservative Greek newspapers gave broad coverage in their social columns to Igor and Tatiana Andropov, who brought their 6-year-old son, Kostya, with them to Athens.
But the Soviet ambassador has ruffled feathers among fellow diplomats by omitting courtesy calls on colleagues, a standard practice for new envoys to Athens.
"Three months after his arrival, Andropov still hadn't visited a single Western or non-aligned ambassador. That has caused quite a lot of puzzled comment," one Western ambassador said.
Andropov studied at the prestigious U.S.A. and Canada Institute in Moscow and lectured on the history of international relations at the Moscow Diplomatic Academy. He spent two years as a special adviser to the Soviet Foreign Ministry's policy planning committee.
His previous posting was deputy leader of the Soviet delegation at the European security conference in Stockholm, an important post Western diplomats in Moscow say may been his because of his late father's position, his acquaintance with Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko, his ability, or a combination of all three.
Andropov's wife, in her mid-30s, is said to be an art historian with a special interest in ancient Greek art and civilization.
"Andropov belongs to the modern Soviet elite, with Western tastes and a comfortable command of English," said a European diplomat who has served in Moscow.
In his interview with the Greek Communist newspaper, Andropov stressed the potential for Greek-Soviet economic cooperation and praised Papandreou's backing for the anti-nuclear movement, saying "our positions are growing closer on issues that are basic for our time."
Papandreou is to sign a series of important economic agreements during an official visit to Moscow Monday and Tuesday that returns one by Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Tikhonov to Athens in 1983.
During the Moscow visit, Papandreou is expected to sign a contract for a $450 million alumina plant to be built in Greece with Soviet technical assistance.
The Soviet Union and Bulgaria already are committed to purchasing the plant's 600,000-ton annual output of alumina, the raw material for aluminum, starting in 1988.
Papandreou will also sign a new shipping agreement providing for more repairs of Soviet merchant ships in Greek yards.