Paris, Berlin see Greek-Russian courtship as sideshow

Germany and France view Greece’s overtures toward Russia as a sideshow and won’t be drawn into a debate on the matter, three government officials said.

That strategy stems from Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande’s belief that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s (photo) talks with President Vladimir Putin are not likely to yield significant aid – especially given Russia’s own economic woes – and are more political theater than any real geopolitical shift, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

Merkel has signaled repeatedly she wants Greece to remain in the euro, partly to avoid a perception of European weakness as Russia challenges the continent’s post-Cold War order.

While she and Hollande are closely watching what develops, they’re publicly shrugging off Tsipras’s trip to Moscow next week, while talks with European partners on Greece’s bailout stall.

“We were also in Moscow and we’re still members of the European Union and stand unified,” Merkel said during a joint press conference with Hollande in Berlin on Tuesday.


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