This article originally appeared at Novinite
March 31 (Novinite) – Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes his forthcoming visit to Russia will help boost trade and economic links hit by the EU sanctions against Moscow and the Kremlin’s ban on food imports from the Union.
Greece doesn’t support the sanctions against Russia as they are a “road to nowhere, Tsipras said in an exclusive interview for Russia’s TASS news agency published on Tuesday.
The visit to Moscow due on April 8 is expected to give a fresh impetus to the Russian-Greek relations, Tsipras said.
“This is a possibility for their true reset,” he said.
Tsipras singled out energy, trade, agriculture and tourism as the key areas offering opportunities for boosting bilateral reationship.
He went on to say the Russian ban on imports of agricultural produce from the EU has dealt a heavy blow to Greek farmers, inflicting a serious damage to the Greek economy.
“We are in a geopolitical environment of special tensions and have common challenges, and we need to look at how we treat them,” the Greek Prime Minister said.
“The new European security architecture must include Russia,” he said.
He called for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Ukraine that has unleashed the stream of tit-for-tat sanctions, adding Greece, as a member of the EU, can be “a bridge between the West and Russia”.
“I believe reaching the Minsk agreements is an important achievement. I think every effort should be made to stop tensions in Ukraine,” he added, according to TASS.
Tsipras’ visit to Moscow will come at a difficult time for the left-wing government of heavily-indebted Greece which is struggling to unlock a fresh bailout of EUR 7.2 B from the Eurogroup and the IMF in exchange for reforms in the economy, taxation and justice system.
The Greek government submitted a package of 18 reforms to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Friday. Following a review of the list of reforms, European leaders said on Monday that the reform plan didn’t go far enough.
Against this backdrop, the timing of Tsipras’ trip to Moscow “has raised questions of whether the visit is an ordinary component of the new Greek government’s multipronged foreign policy, or a pivot toward Russia for financial aid in the event that Greece’s talks with European officials collapse,” the NYT commented.