Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ upcoming meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin is raising red flags with European Union officials who fear he is trying to pressure them for more aid without reforms.
Tsipras is preparing for the April 8-9, a crunch period for Greece as the government said it will be out of money then without more help from international lenders.
Tsipras wants the money but not the tough conditions that would come with it as he tries to satisfy voters although he’s already broken most of his anti-austerity campaign pledges.
Government sources told Kathimerini that Athens is determined to pursue a “multifaceted energy and economic policy,” and hopes to sign a three-year plan to put Russia in Greece’s corner.
There is growing worry in the EU that Tsipras is moving Greece away from a democratic model and more toward that influenced by his Communist youth background and to make an extreme geopolitical shift that could include nationalizing banks.
Tsipras already said he disagrees with EU sanctions imposed on Russia for its support of separatists in Ukraine and the Greek leader hasn’t spoken out about critics claims that Moscow was indirectly behind the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger airliner, which would have been the second time Russia or its supporters brought one down.
German officials, whose country has put up much of the 240 billion euros ($272.5 billion) in two rescue packages to save Greece, at the same time it demanded big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, is getting anxious about the growing Greece-Russia connection.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned the Greek premier against “alienating” the EU. In an interview with Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung he said that said it would be “unacceptable if Tsipras jeopardized Europe’s common policy on Russia in return for Russian help.”
Speaking to the same newspaper, Gunther Krichbaum, Chairman of the Bundestag Committee on EU Affairs, said that if the Greek government believes it can find “salvation” in Moscow, “it is betting on the wrong horse.”
German Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the Rheinische Post, “I can’t imagine that anyone in Athens is seriously playing with the idea of turning their back on Europe and falling into Moscow’s arms,”