Varoufakis says Russia row not about sanctions, but proper consultation

Newly appointed Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says the Greek government’s reaction over Russia sanctions has been misinterpreted.

Writing on his blog, Varoufakis noted that during the government’s first cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias informed those present that he had heard on the news that the EU had unanimously called for new sanctions on Russia.

“The problem was that he, and the new Greek government, were never asked!” argued Varoufakis online. “So, clearly, the issue was not whether our new government agrees or not with fresh sanctions on Russia. The issue is whether our view can be taken for granted without even being told of what it is!”

While noting that he was not qualified to speak on foreign affairs, “this is all about a question of respect for our national sovereignty,” Varoufakis said and invited media to make the distinction between the procedure and the sanctions themselves.

Meanwhile, Kotzias on Thursday was expected to clear up the disagreement between Greece and the European Council. Earlier in the week the new Greek administration had voiced its displeasure over a statement issued by European Council President Donald Tusk regarding new sanctions for Russia over Ukraine. Greece reacted promptly by saying that it had not given its consent for the 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.”

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