Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Moscow

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Moscow

by Stephen Lendman

On April 8, Tsipras and Putin will discuss boosting cooperative economic and political relations between both countries - in areas of trade, energy and possible Russian financial support helping Greece deal with its debt crisis.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed these and related issues will be discussed. An anonymous Kremlin source told the daily Kommersant newspaper:

"We are ready to discuss the issue of providing Greece with a discount on gas: under the contract, its price is tied to the price of oil, which has dropped significantly in recent months." 

"We are also ready to discuss the possibility of issuing new credit to Greece."

The source indicated Russia is interested in acquiring certain Greek assets. Loans might depend on coming to terms.

State-owned Russian Railways (RR) held earlier talks with Greece's public passenger and cargo rail operator TrainOSE.

Gazprom offered 900 million euros for Greece's state-owned gas company DEPA. It then backed off, citing concerns about the company's financial stability.

Both countries have strong tourist ties. Over a million Russians visit Greece annually.

It's home to about 300,000 Russian ex-pats. It gets two-thirds of its natural gas from Russia. It's eager to strengthen energy cooperation.

RT International cited Athens saying Germany owes Greece WW II reparations exceeding its total EU/IMF debt.

Deputy Finance Minister Dimistis Mardas said:

"According to our calculations, the debt linked to German reparations is 278.7 billion euros, including 10.3 billion euros for the so-called forced loan." 

"All the other amounts are related to allowances for individuals or infrastructure."

The statement came ahead of Tsipras' Wednesday meeting with Putin.

Raising the issue of war reparations from 70 years ago will likely strain already less than cordial Athens/Berlin relations. Germany denies it owes anything.

Both countries are involved in renegotiating Greece's $270  billion euro debt.

RT indicated issues Tsipras and Putin will likely discuss include:

  • financial aid free from loan shark of last resort troika terms;

  • lower natural gas prices;

  • closer energy ties overall;

  • lifting sanctions on Greek exports to Russia - mainly agricultural ones; 

  • increased trade; and

  • closer political and economic ties.

According to Syriza MP Thanasis Petrakos, Greece intends to deepen (its) relationship with Russia in the energy sector and thereby hope to gain a significant advantage."

In January, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow would consider aiding Greece financially.

"(I)f (a request) is submitted to the Russian government, we will definitely consider it," he said.

On the eve of his visit to Moscow, Tsipras spoke to Tass Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman.

He discussed prospects for Greek/Russian relations, a new European security architecture, EU sanctions, and upcoming 70th Victory in World War II anniversary commemoration to be held in Moscow.

Meeting with Putin "is an opportunity to lay a new basis for Russian-Greek relations," said Tsipras.

"We should take a look at how our peoples and countries may really cooperate in many spheres - the economy, energy, trade, and agriculture," he explained. 

"We should consider in what way we can help each other: mostly how constructive our cooperation can be."

Tsipras called sanctions "a road to nowhere." He hopes to strengthen Greek/Russian bilateral relations.

He wants a new European security architecture to include Russia. He recognizes the challenge he faces dealing with Greece's enormous economic and financial burdens.

He intends honoring his odious IMF/EU debt obligations instead of renouncing them and walking away. 

He'll continue paying bankers first, maintain austerity, and provide little or no relief for long suffering Greek people.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Greece "intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors ad infinitum."

Making a 450 million euro IMF payment looms - nine billion euros overall this year plus other repayments.

The more Greece borrows, the greater its debt burden. The less it's able to service it.

Debt too great to be repaid won't be. Noted investor Jim Rogers said Greek debt is so huge it'll "never ever" be paid off.

It's "impossible." If Athens can't get financial help in Russia (or enough of it), China might be its best bet, Rogers explained.

It's "got more money than anybody…than all of us put together," he said.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned Greece not to jeopardize its EU relationship by seeking Russian financial aid.

Troika power wants Greece debt entrapped in perpetuity. It wants ordinary Greeks deprived of essentials to life to pay bankers first. 

It wants all long-suffering Europeans treated the same way. So far Tsipras has been very obliging. He surrendered to Troika demands. 

His campaign promises proved hollow. How long Greeks intend putting up with his betrayal remains to be seen.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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