All eyes are on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visiting Moscow, holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The BBC had a live stream when Tsipras laid a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in the Red square Just like the UK-broadcaster would if the Pope or President Obama would visit Kremlin and the Russian Bear…
Why do they all care? They care, in fact they’re scared to death, that Tsipras might ask financial aid from Putin, a loan, a bear bailout, cash money that is , a rubble injection to meet Greece’s needs. And this makes them furious.
EU-politicians, policy-makers, European and international media “advise” Tsipras not to break the European Union front against Russia and do not tie a knot with Putin, do not jeopardize Greece’s position in the EU.
President of the European Parliament, talkative Martin Schulz openly warned Tsipras not to break the line on EU sanctions towards Russia.
“Greece demands and gets a lot of solidarity from the EU. We can therefore also ask for solidarity from Greece and for this solidarity not to be ended unilaterally by pulling out of joint measures. Tsipras should base his actions in Moscow on that. The EU expects that from him as the head of government of an EU member state.”
Also the European Commission meant it had a say in Greek-Russian relations.
“We expect that all member states are treated equally and we expect as well that all member states speak with one voice to all our trade partners, including Russia,” EU Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said.
The rumor kitchen is boiling. The frightening scenario claims that Athens and Moscow are plotting a secret bailout ever since the idea was first floated by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov days after the Syriza party won the elections in January. Russian daily Kommersant reported that Moscow is ready to offer indirect financial help, citing an unnamed government source.
“We are ready to discuss the possibility of allowing Greece new loans. But in turn we are interested here in reciprocal moves, in particular in terms of Russia getting certain assets from Greece,” the source said, without specifying the sort of assets he was talking about.
Greece has denied all loan rumors ad Russian bailout plots, and told Martin Schulz to refrain from advises.
“Admonitions are not necessary, we know what to do in Russia,” an unnamed Greek government source said from Moscow and added:
“The strategic orientation of the country is given and known, but we have every right to exercise sovereign rights as a country and develop bilateral relations as we think best.”
Clarifying that “Greece has not asked, nor intends to seek financial help from Russia“ the source stressed that “the problems with the Eurozone will not be solved through Moscow but within the EU institutions.”
Agenda: fruit embargo & energy
High on the agenda is more likely that Greece will ask a natural gas discount as well as the ‘take-or-pay’ clause, which requires Athens to buy gas it doesn’t use.
Under the current contract, Greece’s state gas company DEPA buys gas at $300 per 1,000 cubic meters. In 2014, DEPA was able to secure a 15 percent discount from Gazprom. Greece may be able to secure a further discount or renegotiate the ‘take-or-pay’ part of the contract if Athens offers Russian companies oil assets or rights to explore oil and gas deposits in the Ionian Sea.
Gazprom currently controls almost 70 percent of the Greek gas market. (RT.com)
Another issue of great interest for Greece is the lifting of embargo on agricultural products, a Russian counter-sanctions against the EU that punished Moscow for the Ukraine.
Greece has been hit especially hard by Moscow’s food ban, as more than 40 percent of Greek exports to Russia are agricultural products. In 2013, more than €178 million in fruits and conserves were exported to Russia.
So far, we have little information about what Russia expects from Greece.
PM Alexis Tsipras and partner in life Peristera Baziana arriving in Moscow.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with President Putin Wednesday noon and PM Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday.
Putin and Tsipras are to hold a joint press conference at 15:30 pm Wednesday.
While Tsipras is boosting relations in Kremlin, the Euro Working Group is meeting in Brussels Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning to decide on Greece’s reform plan.
The much anticipated “Greek credit event” Cassandras were predicting for tomorrow Thursday seems averted. Greece sold €1.1375bn in 6-month T-bills.
Interesting read: Fool’s errand the bad Putin and the good European Union