H/t reader M.G.:
“An article on Russian-Greek financial agreements, in the mix and those completed. The gas pipeline is a done deal, but the Greek port is of great value to Russia…..Just look at a globe of the world to see why.
This story is being ignored by US media of course…….paragraph three where the Greek PM says the center of financial gravity has shifted east is far more truthful than acknowledged by western leaders………..
The only story addressing this subject I have found so far, again in the UK Guardian.”
– Greek prime minister reaches out to Vladimir Putin for help in financial crisis (Guardian, June 19, 2015):
Alexis Tsipras in Russia dismisses criticism that he should be in Brussels solving debt standoff: ‘We are ready to go to new seas to reach new safe ports’
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has made a broad overture to Russia as he seeks a way out of his country’s debt and currency impasse, telling Vladimir Putin that Greece wants new partners to help it out of the crisis.
In a speech delivered in front of Putin in Russia, Tsipras said Moscow was one of Greece’s most important partners, and dismissed critics who wondered why he was in St Petersburg and not in Brussels trying to secure an urgent deal with European creditors.
“As all of you are fully aware, we are at the moment at the centre of a storm, of a whirlpool, but we live near the sea so we’re not scared of storms. We are ready to go to new seas to reach new safe ports,” he added, in a subtle nod to his hosts.
Tsipras said the world’s economic centre of gravity had shifted and that there are “new emerging forces” such as the Bric countries and Putin’s new Eurasian union that are playing a more important economic role.
“Russia is one of the most important partners for us,” said the Greek prime minister, ahead of formal talks with Putin.
His intervention came as Greece teetered on the brink of a banking crisis, a deal between the government in Athens and creditors owed $320bn still elusive. Greece wants significant debt relief in return for fiscal reforms; lenders are reluctant to be generous to a country that has struggled to balance the books for years.
“The EU should go back to its initial principles of solidarity, justice and social justice. Ensuring strict economic measures will lead us nowhere,” Tsipras said. “The so-called problem of Greece is the problem of the whole European Union.”
“The question is whether the EU can once again be a social solidarity hub or it will continue to pursue the path that will lead to a dead-end,” he added.
Putin has met Tsipras on several occasions this spring as the debt crisis has intensified, leading to suggestions that Moscow might be prepared to step in where Brussels fears to tread in order to bolster its influence in southeastern Europe. The two countries announced a deal earlier in the day to route a pipeline through Greece that would carry Russian gas to Europe. Greece can expect transit payments – but not until the project is completed in 2019.
Putin’s aides indicated that Moscow would consider lending Greece money if required, though no formal request had yet been submitted.
But in his earlier speech at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, Putin was coy about Russia’s intentions towards Greece. Russia itself is weathering an economic setback triggered by low oil prices and sanctions.
Putin said it had successfully negotiated the worst of the crisis and was once again “open to the world”.
But he too put the accent on ties with Bric countries and Latin America, noting the difficulties in relations with Europe. “We are following very closely what happens in Europe because it is our major trading partner. I hope that problems will go away and we will continue to develop our relationship further.”
Asked whether Russia saw its economic future more closely bound into a China-led grouping, he added: “We are not creating a bloc-based approach. We are trying to create a global approach.”
“We are not being aggressive. We are persistent, we are consistent in pursuing our interests.”