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Europe is 'bluffing' over Greece-Russia relations - analyst


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Europe is 'bluffing' over Greece-Russia relations - analyst

Brussels could only look on as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday.

The Greek side was looking for the financial benefits of strengthening relations with Moscow while EU officials warned of the consequences.

But could Greece open a window of opportunities outside the EU without being isolated at a critical moment in its own history?

Some analysts described Tsipras’ visit as nothing more than a distraction, masking real troubles still facing Athens.

The Greek government has delayed payments to suppliers in order to meet its next obligation to the International Monetary Fund, repayments of 458 million euros which are due on Thursday.

Other pundits think the visit shows the Greek people that the government is keeping its options open.

We explore the risks and possible consequences of enhanced ties.

Efi Koutsokosta – euronews

“Joining us is Konstaninos Filis, a professor of international relations. So what is the Greek side seeking from Tsipras’ visit to Moscow?”

Konstaninos Filis – political analyst

“The Europeans are bluffing when they demand that Greece limits its relations with Russia because the EU and indeed very big European states continue to deepen their own relations with Moscow for their national interests.

On the other hand, they say Greece shouldn’t strengthen its own links while negotiations with its creditors continue because, for one, it will send the wrong signal to its European partners that Greece’s policy is opportunistic and means that if you don’t satisfy our demands we can turn elsewhere.

Secondly, Russia can’t be considered a serious alternative for Greece only a complementary one, there is always the danger that could send the wrong signal to other countries China.”

Efi Koutsokosta – euronews

“European Parliament President Martin Schulz has warned Athens not to put at risk the common EU position regarding sanctions towards Russia. However Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras recently veered off message with his comments. Isn’t this dangerous?”

Konstaninos Filis, political analyst

“I think that Athens won’t choose distance itself too much from the official Brussels position if this might lead to its isolation.

It will try to form a common EU bloc with other member states that share the same position and have similar priorities such as Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Cyprus and Hungary.

But Greece has to be careful not to mimic Hungary’s outspoken leadership about Russia and on that basis it’s important to maintain a single European position.”

Efi Koutsokosta – euronews

“Greece’s foreign minister signed up (yesterday) a common declaration in Hungary to proceed with the Turkish stream gas pipeline. So at a time when the EU is try to accelerate the concept of energy union and become less dependent on Russian gas, is it wise to take a different position?”

Konstaninos Filis, political analyst

“For Greece to participate in the Turkish Stream project, some specific conditions need to be met.
Firstly, countries affected by the cancellation of the South Stream such as Austria and Italy need to give the nod to Turkish Stream.

Secondly, companies should be recruited to distribute the gas throughout Europe once it reaches the Greek-Turkish border, given that Russia is against the involvement of other parties, to avoid legal complications.

The next step is to assure a common European position or at least, a minimum consensus from Brussels to support the project. Because if there is no EU backing, as was the case of the South Stream, then there is a risk that the project could be undermined.”

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