Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Moscow on April 8 to meet with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.
This visit was painted by politicians and the media with dark brush strokes reminiscent of the old days of the Cold War, when the world was divided in two and when acts of disloyalty came at a heavy price.
Certainly, Tsipras is not the only leader to visit Moscow after the rupture between Putin and the West. He is not even the first of a bankrupt Eurozone country. That distinction went to Cyprus’ Nicos Anastasiades.
But he is the first whose country’s future depends on Brussels. Therefore, his words will be passed through a thousand filters.
He should therefore be very cautious. And he should be carefull to be speaking to a single audience, not to two. Saying different things to different audiences does not work.
The Prime Minister, I am sure, follows the international reactions to his visit. If so he will see that a double standard is used.
It is perfectly fine, under that standard, for Germany’s Angela Merkel or France’s Francois Hollande to visit Moscow, but not for Anastasiades – see the damaging April 7 New York Times article about his visit there – and even less acceptable for Tsipras – who represents a much larger country – to do so.
The criticisms, unfortunately, have –at least- some merit: you cannot belong to a military alliance (NATO), to a common market (EU) and a common currency (the euro), you cannot ask your partners for financial aid to survive, and then take a verbal stand against the common positions of Europe and America regarding the financial sanctions they are taking against Putin over Ukraine.
The idea that Greece – and much more so, Cyprus – can imply the use of blackmail to get help from Brussels by playing the Moscow card runs completely contrary to the lessons of history.
At the end of the day, all that it achieves is to make waves where alliances are needed. But such is the result when foreign policy is used to serve internal politics.
It would be a thousand times better simply to do the right thing for the country: to organize its government and economy on a new basis – pretty much starting from scratch – and to bite the bullet by implementing the reforms, so that Greece’s inhabitants can have the life they deserve.
Greeks should wield shovels, not words: that is to say, pursue their future through hard work rather than through loans and aid.
If Greece had done that from the beginning of George Papandreou’s government, at this point we would be seeing a different Greece.