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More on Tsipras’s controversial visit to Moscow, Grexit and war reparations

Wide coverage of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Moscow today continues across European media. Greece and Russia will discuss energy partnership, tourism and a possible Greek exemption from the Russian embargo on European food products, says – among others – Les Echos. Even though Mr Tsipras will seek economic aid and political support, Moscow will probably not commit on direct financial aid to Greece, adds the daily.

Most of the comments – such as in Publico, Kristeligt Dagblad, Der Taggespiegel and Les Echos – note that Mr Tsipras is playing the Russian card to put pressure on Europe during the negotiations. In the German daily, Christoph von Marschall considers that the Greek PM is using his visit to threaten European partners and that he is unacceptably straining their loyalty. The French economic newspaper further says that Russia hopes to worsen European divisions over how to deal with Moscow.

Amid the Ukrainian crisis, Russian media and politicians have repeatedly recalled in the past few days that Mr Tsipras criticised EU sanctions against Moscow and has opposed their extension. Rumour has it that in case of a breakdown in debt negotiations, Athens could leave the EU and also NATO, adds Les Echos. Along the same lines in Le Figaro.fr, Pierre Avril describes Mr Tsipras’s visit as a “golden opportunity” for Vladimir Putin to further weaken the European front against Russia that was formed after the annexation of Crimea. The website of the French daily quotes an EC spokesperson, saying that Brussels “does not see any shift in stance [towards Moscow] in any member state.”

El País’s Andrea Rizzi believes that the Russian leader is craftily taking advantage of every opportunity he is presented with to divide EU member states, to introduce a Trojan horse, and that Mr Tsipras’ visit means a further chance for playing out his strategy. Jornal de Negocios’s João Carlos Barradas writes that trust in Mr Tsipras is scarce and Greece’s government seems to be on a rupture which will take his country out of the euro area. Publico recalls that the European Commission and the US government will be closely monitoring the evolution of Russia and Greece’s relationship.An opinion piece for The INYT says that the Greek PM, in need of aid, should be careful not to let himself be used to undermine European unity.

Among other economic news, Greece’s request for war reparations also raises European media’s attention, especially in Germany. Bild.de reports that, regarding the Greek demand for German reparation payments, EP President Martin Schulz told the German newspaper that “it does no one good to mix these emotionally-charged questions with the financial crisis in Greece” and that they are “politically and legally closed.” A Deutschlandfunk programme provides a commentary of Panajotis Gavrilis, underlining that Germany´s flat refusal of the €278.7 billion in reparations demanded by Greece for WWII is problematic, as it reflects the way Germany is seen there since the beginning of the crisis, i.e. arrogant and self-righteous.

The Greek demands reflect the wish that Germany make amends for the crimes committed that goes deeper than the debt crisis, he adds. Helsingin Sanomat mentions German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel’s opinion, believing that Greece wants more freedom of action from the euro area countries to make it through its financial crisis. This freedom of action has nothing to do with WWII or war reparations, however. While De Tijd’s Jean Vanempten considers that that the Greek demand is partly motivated by political opportunism, but also because of an unresolved past, Luxemburger Wort speaks of “Tsipras’ risky strategy”, referring to Greece asking Germany for war reparations.

Meanwhile, “threat of ‘Grexit’ forces regulators to make damage limitation plans”, reads The Times, saying that Britain’s financial regulators are working on contingency plans to prepare for a possible Grexit, as fears grow that the indebted country will leave the currency bloc. “Spectre of Grexit returns as repayment looms,” titles The Financial Times. NERIT reports that despite the pressure of creditors, Mr Tsipras stressed that the negotiations are in progress and maturing, while the European Commission urged Greece to take the next step.

Kathimerini says that European Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein said that it is up to Greece to make a move, noting that the Eurogroup will evaluate the current situation in relation to the ongoing negotiations.

©europeanunion2015

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