Tsipras eyes Russia deal as EU concern intensifies

As Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepared for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow on April 8-9, designed to boost bilateral ties, high-ranking European officials voiced concerns that the trip might play Russia against the European Union during negotiations with the Greek government.

Government sources told Kathimerini that Athens is determined to pursue a “multifaceted energy and economic policy.” In this context, the sources said, the aim is to co-sign a three-year action plan for the economy, commerce, research and technology.

The leftist leader appears unmoved by western concerns of a Greek geopolitical shift. That said, Tsipras does not intend to camouflage areas of disagreement such as Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, unnamed aides told the newspaper.

Over the weekend, senior politicians from EU paymaster Germany expressed strong reservations over the visit.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned the Greek premier against “alienating” the EU. In an interview with Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung on Saturday, the German politician said it would be “unacceptable if Tsipras jeopardized Europe’s common policy on Russia in return for Russian help.”

Speaking to the same newspaper, Gunther Krichbaum, chairman of the Bundestag Committee on EU Affairs, said that if the Greek government believes it can find “salvation” in Moscow, “it is betting on the wrong horse.”

Criticism also came from the country’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel. “I can’t imagine that anyone in Athens is seriously playing with the idea of turning their back on Europe and falling into Moscow’s arms,” Gabriel told the Rheinische Post.

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