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Rookie Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is likely to find a formidable friend in Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Moscow visit, the world press thinks.

Some excerpts

Greece Looks To Putin With EU Standoff

New York Times/Reuters – Liz Alderman

As a European deal to give more aid to Athens falters and the prospect of a default looms, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras is preparing to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin next week .

The timing has raised questions. Is the visit an ordinary component of the new Greek government’s multipronged foreign policy, or a pivot toward Russia for financial aid in the event that talks with European officials collapse outright?

Greece told its creditors on Wednesday that it will run out of money on April 9th. It appealed for more loans before reforms on which new disbursements hinge are agreed and implemented. The request was rejected, euro zone officials said.

Greece’s appeal echoed remarks on Wednesday by interior minister Nikos Voutsis, that the country would have to choose whether to pay back €450 million to the International Monetary Fund on April 9th or pay salaries and pensions. Voutsis said it would choose the latter …

Tsipras, who came to power in January, is meeting Putin on April 8th. He originally planned to travel to Moscow in May but he accelerated the meeting with Putin a couple of weeks ago as Greece came to loggerheads with Germany and other European countries over the terms for releasing the money. Without it, Greece could go bankrupt or possibly exit the euro zone.

The visit to Moscow is being billed by Athens as a routine meeting to strengthen the relationship between the countries, which have longstanding political and religious ties …

“This is an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on the rest of the euro zone to make concessions to Greece,” said Simon Tilford, deputy director of the Centre for European Reform in London. If so, he added, it is a gamble that could backfire.

“Flirting with Russia is guaranteed to antagonise the rest of the euro zone,” Tilford said. “It will make it harder for those in Germany who were arguing for a more conciliatory line toward Greece to keep it.”

Tsipras, Putin to Talk Economy, Sanctions

Reuters – Vladimir Soldatkin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras plan to discuss economic ties and the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow when they meet for talks next week, a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday.

Russia wants the EU to lift the sanctions imposed over Moscow’s role in the turmoil in Ukraine and hopes to get support from some EU member states, notably Hungary and Greece.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to talk about any possibility of Moscow providing financial help to the cash-strapped Greece before the talks.

“Relations between Moscow and the European Union will be discussed in the light of Brussels’s policy of sanctions and Athens’ quite cold attitude to this policy,” Peskov said.

Greece’s new left-wing government has said it will not seek aid from Moscow but has so far failed to reach a deal with its EU/IMF creditors to unlock fresh funds.

Putin and Tsipras will meet in Moscow on Apr.8. It will be Tsipras’ first visit to the Russian capital after his leftist Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election in January.

Tsipras visited Moscow in May, 2014, and attended a conference on ties between Russia and Greece, as well as being received by senior Russian state officials. Five other members of the Greek delegation now also hold senior government roles in Athens.

Tsipras Risks Becoming Putin’s Idiot

The Guardian – Natalie Nougayrede

There is nothing wrong with travelling to Moscow these days if you are a European politician. The problem is what you say, or do, when you’re there. The danger isn’t so much ending up in prison – Russia is not North Korea.

Nor is it that no one should talk to Putin or his regime. Russia is a player that cannot be ignored across many international fields, from the Middle East to nuclear proliferation and even climate change.

I can see several reasons why Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has decided to travel to Moscow . Greece is deeply isolated in Europe as it struggles to harness much-needed funds from its lenders.

Faced with a scenario of default or bank runs, Greece is in dire straits, with renewed speculation of a Grexit from the eurozone. On 9 April, Greece must pay back €450m to the IMF. Tsipras wants to show his European colleagues that he can turn east, playing Russia off against the EU.

His government has indicated it doesn’t intend to seek Russian money as an alternative to the European bailout, but that doesn’t mean an offer is excluded.

His energy minister has just asked Russia to grant Greece lower gas prices, in the hope of alleviating budgetary pains. TV pictures of a warm welcome in Moscow will go down well in Greece, where Tsipras has to consolidate a seemingly fractured political base.

But the strongest glue that binds Tsipras and Putin at this point may well be anti-German sentiment – that is, deep aggravation against Angela Merkel. The German chancellor is portrayed in Greece as the source of all economic woes.

Greece’s position within the EU will not be strengthened by this. Hugging close to Putin is not the best way to show that you are “a proud member of the European Union”, as the Greek government’s reform document – handed to its lenders on Wednesday – confidently states. Nor is it likely to convince anyone in Europe to show more solidarity to Greece, something Tsipras has been repeatedly, and understandably, calling for.

Here’s a suggestion that might help Tsipras gain some traction. He will be the first European leader to travel to Moscow since the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.

Tsipras has branded himself a politician who wants to rejuvenate Greek democracy, end corruption and oligarchic privileges.

He claims to defend those who feel crushed by the powers that be. A word of support in Moscow for those who, in Russia’s democratic opposition movement, stand for exactly the same kind of values would be, well, a nice surprise.


The post World Press View: Greece Will Find Putin No White Knight Rescuer appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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