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10/04 – Coverage of Tsipras-Putin meeting continues unabated

Wednesday’s meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin is still fueling debate across Europe. The Guardian reports that Mr Tsipras called for a “reset” in EU-Russian relations on the second day of his visit to Moscow that is being viewed with suspicion in Europe. “Only together with Russia are we able to build a new architecture of security in Europe”, stated Mr Tsipras in front of students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations yesterday.

His words echo those of the Kremlin, which has long called for a new security alliance in Europe that would include Russia. Politiken notes that during talks with Russia’s leading political figures, the Greek PM did not criticise the Russian government for its role in Crimea, nor for its otherwise threatening military behaviour.

European media such as Süddeutsche Zeitung report on Mr Putin’s offer to the Greek government for participation in the Turkish Stream project. The German newspaper says that while declarations of intent were expressed, no tangible results were presented.Greece’s supposedly high losses from Russia’s import ban on fruits and vegetables from the EU as an answer to sanctions against Russia are also mentioned. President Juncker’s spokesperson stressed that “the Russian market has accounted for only two percent of the Greek agricultural exports,” adds the daily.

In De Standaard, Energy Specialist Georg Zachmann says that he is “not sure Russia is seriously considering building Turkish Stream.” Mr Zachmann suspects that other factors also played a role in the South Stream issue, such as a decrease in European demand for Russian gas. Le Soir also reports that even though no concrete measures were announced, the happy faces and handshakes between Putin and Tsipras indicate agreements are being negotiated.

On Europe 1, Eric Le Boucher states that “it looks like Alexis Tsipras is doing everything he can to systematically antagonise his European partners.” Until now, the Greek PM has been unable to come up with a “credible and consistent” economic programme and now he comes to Moscow “begging for help.” Harsh criticisms worsen when he considers that, in order to achieve his ends, Mr Tsipras is ready to break up the European united front on sanctions against Russia.

Delo’s Saša Vidmajer considers that even though the Greek PM did not travel to the Kremlin with the intention of asking for financial assistance, his public criticism of sanctions remains present and is a particularly sensitive topic for the EU. FAZ however reports that Brussels and Berlin are “relieved” about the general course of the meeting. The German daily – among others such as Avghi and Croatia’s Slobodna Dalmacija – quotes EC Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, saying that Brussels “expect[s] Greece to adhere to the European unity.”

With regards to possible energy agreements between Athens and Moscow, FAZ’s writers note that, according to the European Commission, one must prove if Mr Tsipras’ and Mr Putin’s plans meet EU requirements. For Welt.de, Jan Dams’s commentary focuses on Mr Putin, writing that one could say many negative things about the Russian President but one should refrain from calling him “stupid.” Mr Putin “knows how to count” and sent Mr Tsipras home almost empty-handed, highlights the author.

Several newspaper mentions Mr Tsipras’s statements. Politiken also quotes the Greek PM, stating that “seeds are being sown,” leading to speculations on Greece’s future role with Russia and the EU. RAI radio 1 notes however that Mr Tsipras said that Greece’s goal is to stay in Europe. Naftemporiki says along the same lines that the Greek PM clarified yesterday that Greece does not consider that Russia constitutes a solution in the negotiations with the euro area countries. However, at the same time, he stated that he is dedicated to the support of economic and energy relations with Russia.

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