New Greek FM to address dispute with EU on Russian sanctions

Greece’s new Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will attempt on Thursday to clear up a dispute between Athens and the European Council when EU diplomats discuss whether to step up sanctions against Russia over fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The Greek government expressed displeasure earlier this week at the issuing of a statement by European Council President Donald Tusk, which called for further sanctions to be imposed. Athens said it had not given its consent for such a statement and had not been consulted properly.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Tusk insisted that the proper procedures were followed. “We consulted all member states including a representative of the new Greek government,” he said. “It was our understanding that the statement had been agreed by all Monday evening.”

Athens, however, has a different interpretation of events. “They breached the EU’s rules and tried to present us with a fait accompli before we had even been sworn in,” said Kotzias.

However, sources said that the Greek government is willing to discuss the content of any further action against Russia and was more upset about the process followed. Athens also noted that there are other EU member states that are skeptical about further action against Russia and that any further measures agreed on Thursday may not be drastic.