EU chair denounces Greek criticism of Russia sanctions

Latvia, current holder of the EU presidency, said on Friday it was surprised by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s criticism of European Union sanctions against Russia.

The Latvian prime minister’s comments came after left-wing Tsipras met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, and lashed out against what he termed the EUs «vicious cycle of sanctions».

But Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said Athens had approved an extension of EU sanctions just last month.

“At that meeting in March Greece’s prime minister accepted a common position,» she told reporters during a visit to neighboring Lithuania.

“Therefore it was a surprise for me what he said in Moscow,» she added, in a joint press conference with her Lithuanian and Estonian counterparts.

EU leaders say they will only drop sanctions against Russia if a Ukraine ceasefire signed in February holds.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said the objectives of his Greek counterpart’s visit to Moscow were «totally incomprehensible», and that the meeting with Putin «caused concern for many EU countries».

Dominated by Moscow until 1990-91, the Baltic states have repeatedly called for tougher sanctions against Moscow over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year.

Tsipras’ sit-down with Putin has fuelled EU fears that cash-strapped Athens could be cosying up to Moscow, but despite warm words and a vague cooperation plan, there were no concrete results from the encounter.


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