No matter how hard the European political beau monde tried to prevent it, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras did visit Moscow. Neither Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, nor Hungarian leader Victor Urban, who have also recently met Russian President Vladimir Putin, had received so many warnings and admonitions as the Greek PM. In an interview with Hannoversche Zeitung, European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned Tsipras against alienating his EU partners, adding it would be unacceptable if Tsipras jeopardized Europe's common policy on Russia in return for Russian help. Manfred Weber, chairman of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, said in his comments that Tsipras is playing a risky game, adding that, «The other EU countries will not be played by him.» Mr. Samaras, the predecessor of Tsipras as PM, has accused the current incumbent of «sending his cousin to Iran to ask the Tehran government to buy Greek bonds». «When you are in Europe and ask Chinese, Iranians, Russians to finance your deficit, don’t you send a signal to the rest of Europe that you are not really a serious pro-European?» was the refrain of the leader of the much diminished New Democracy party. Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande abstained from caustic remarks in their comments on Tsipras activities but according to the piece L’Europa ordina: Grecia, cambia governo. E la chiamate democrazia? (Europe Tells Greece to Change Government, Is It What you Call Democracy) published by Italian Il Giornale on April 6, Merkel does not approve the rapprochement between Russia and Greece.
The Greek Prime Minister is in a difficult situation. During the pre-election campaign his party said Greece should reject the dictate of European banks and supranational political structures that call for more austerity measures, privatization and reduction of government workers. Greek voters pinned their hopes for brighter future on Tsipras. As a result his party got 149 seats (out of 300) in parliament. Europe has already provided Greece with 240 billion euros of loans and credits. No way can they let Greece escape its financial obligations.
Tsipras and his party Syriza are not responsible for this situation. The old parties which defend the interests of Greek establishment are closely integrated with European elite. For instance, Greek ship owners threaten to register their ships elsewhere depriving the country of tax benefits. The old parties had wasted money enjoying full support of transnational monopolies and banks. It’s enough to remember how Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country's already bloated deficit.
Greece is the second-biggest defense spender among the 27 NATO countries after the United States, according to NATO statistics. 42% of Greek arms procurement falls on the United States of America to be followed by Germany (22, 7%) and France (12, 5%). Naturally Greece plunged deeper into debt, but the beneficiaries did not bother.
Now Tsipras has to clean out the Augean stables. Greece and its European creditors (the International Monetary Fund, The European Union and European Central Bank) agreed on February 20 to a four-month extension on the country's bailout. Austerity measures remaining if force undermine the position of the Prime Minister. German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, was evidently pleased. He said, «Greeks will have difficult time to explain the deal to voters».
That’s what the situation was like before the Tsipras’ trip to Russia. During the talks in Moscow economy was given much attention, though no significant economic deals were signed. Joint agricultural ventures, the extension of Turkish Stream and the participation of Russian companies in privatization process were the issues on the agenda. Formally Greece did not ask for financial aid, but Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said it was possible to consider it.
Probably, Tsipras understood well that under the economic sanctions Russia was not able to solve all the problems faced by Greece as a result of debt burden. The further aggravation of the situation may lead to the return of drahma (not the most likely option, but it’s not excluded). Russia’s help might come in handy. Perhaps, that’s why the trip of Tsipras to Moscow tour caused such unease in Europe.
There is only one advice to be given to Europeans under the circumstances – don’t listen to Soros when he affirms that Ukraine is more important for the European Union than Greece, so Kiev should be provided with a large aid package. Soros says that otherwise the European Union will cease to exist as a real political force. Taking into consideration his «service record» it would be expedient to lend him an ear and then do everything the other way around.
The Ukraine’s regime is much worse than those who had ruled Greece before Syriza. The current Ukraine’s rulers will swallow any aid whole without winking an eye and immediately ask for more under the pretext of «defending European values from Russian aggression.» And Soros will continue to lobby new payments to Ukraine pursuing personal gains. Actually, as a rule, Americans prefer to make others pay.
At last a responsible government has come to power in Greece! It would be more expedient for the EU to find an agreement with it on acceptable terms without putting forward extortionate demands. The collapse of eurozone will cost more anyway. If the European Union has no extra money, then it should rescind the anti-Russian sanctions to improve the situation. Everyone will gain. Even Ukraine.