Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday sought to ease any concerns that his visit to Moscow may have raised among Greece’s European partners, saying that although Russia was a “strategic choice” for Athens, the Greek government would seek to solve its debt problem within the eurozone.
Following his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Tsipras met with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other officials as well as with Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
“For Greece, Russia is an integral part of its dynamic, multifaceted foreign policy which is aimed at exploiting Greece’s geopolitical position so the country can once again gain prospects for growth and boost its role on the international stage,” Tsipras said in a speech to the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He stressed that Greece’s priority was to solve its financial problem with the eurozone. “We consider this problem facing us a common European problem and for this reason we seek a joint European solution,” he said.
Tsipras sought to clarify his indications that an initial agreement had been reached with Moscow for the extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, expressing respect for European legislation and support for the European projects, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB).
Tsipras’s trip to Moscow irked many European officials, though some, including European Parliament President Martin Schulz, appeared appeased on Thursday as neither Tsipras nor Putin appeared to have crossed any red lines. There was irritation in Washington too. A US State Department official told Kathimerini that now was not the right time for “business as usual” with Russia and stressed the need for unity among Europeans to stop Moscow from fueling conflict in eastern Ukraine.