PM Tsipras in Moscow. What does he want?

What does Greek PM Alexis Tsipras want from Russia and vice versa? Read few comments.

George Tzogopoulos, Research Fellow, ELIAMEP, Author of the Book US Foreign Policy in the European Media, Lecturer, European Institute of Nice

I my opinion this visit is an opportunity for an improvement of Greek-Russian relations. But as opposed to media speculation, I sincerely believe Greece will act within the framework of the EU and NATO. This said, what we can expect is more interest from Russian companies to participate in Greek privatizations but NOT a bilateral loan or financial assistance. On the other hand, Russia cannot lift the sactions only for Greece because it regards the EU as an entity where Greece belongs and does not adapt policies for specific member states. Athens will try to bring the issue of sanctions at the EU level – because the Greek national economy is damaged indeed – and will possibly attempt to bring the sides closer. The mission is very difficult but this is the ambition of Prime Minister Tsipras and Foreign Minister Kotzias.

Sergey Utkin, Head of Department of Strategic Assessment, Centre for Situation Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences

It doesn’t look as much of a riddle to me. Russia could probably make a contribution to the resolution of the Greek economic problems, at least a symbolic one – even with the troubled time the Russian economy is having, it still keeps the level of resilience that makes direct financial aid and joint ventures with other countries a serious proposal to discuss. The “Turkish Stream” will be mentioned most probably – Greece can benefit from it both as a supplier and a site for infrastructure that would create jobs for Greeks. Politically Russian government would be happy to see a broader diversity of views in the EU, and stronger anti-sanctions voices – Greece can definitely be one of them. In response to a more vocal support on the part of the Greek government, the Russian counter-sanctions could be lifted specifically for the Greek goods.

Ioannis MichaletosPolitical & Security Analyst, Associate at Institute for Security and Defence Analysis

Tsipras visit to Russia has a two-fold purpose and aim

One is domestic, to show to his electorate and the wider Greek public that his newly appointed government (a coalition one), is able to have international posture. Thats why apart from Russia further visits are planned to China, Middle Eastern countries and India in the coming months. Thus he builds his profile as a statesman

The second one is internationally aimed towards the EU, to relay the profile of alternative options in case of a “GRExit” and in general of multi-layered foreign policy.

As far as the particular visit is concerned, several low and mid-level deals could be expected,such as discount on the price of gas for Greece and investments in specific sectors like tourism. Also Greece in principle accepts inclusion in the “Turk stream” pipeline, but in reality this plan could go forward if Turkey itself fully agrees, something that needs to be looked upon again, since it is not fully certain-many details are left over.

Davide DentiPhD student, School of International Studies, University of Trento, Editor for East Journal

Both are bluffing. Tsipras wants to have more cards to play against Germany in the eurogroup, to get a better deal for Greece, but knows well that Russia isn’t a real alternative: Moscow does not have real money to offer him (Russia is itself in a recession), and cozying up with the friends of Putin in Europe (most of whom are in the far-right) is not going to help his image among the EU partners, particularly with Germany. Putin, on the other hand, is employing his usual divide-and-rule strategy, trying to see if he can add one more country to the list of those ready to soften the EU sanctions to Russia, and testing the waters for the new “Turkish stream” gas project that should replace the defunct South Stream. For Greece it is a dangerous game, and Tsipras will back down before it is too late.



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