Dimitris Rapidis

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Five days before the official visit of Greek PM Alexis Tsipras to Moscow and the long-awaited meeting with President Putin, European and international media start (again) criticizing the rapprochement between the two countries. The Guardian and Natalie Nougayrede published today a fiercely ironic OpEd, under the alarming title “Tsipras risks to become Putin’s useful idiot”. This is just the beginning.

In the domestic front, PM Tsipras has shown so far that he is resilient to pressure. Deputy Minister of Public Order Yannis Panousis, ex-MP of Democratic Left and member of the coalition government of New democracy, PASOK, and Democratic Left, was hosted today to Greek daily Ta Nea, castigating the government for not being responsive to incidents of protest at the University of Athens, i.e. meaning the non-intervention of police forces to end the peaceful occupation in one of the major administrative buildings. The funny thing of the story is that Panousis’s article was published by a newspaper that has never being friendly, or to be honest, that has staged a media war to Syriza a couple of years now. In response, a part of his portfolio, i.e. including the supervision of police forces, is expected to be transferred to the Ministry of Justice. And the essence of the discussion/accusations stops here in practice, with no further drama.

What is more, Tsipras proves willing to discuss -and accept- proposals made by front opposition on issues that align with the government’s firm pro-social stance. Leading figure of front opposition Dora Bakoyannis proposed the creation of a committee to be composed by internationally renowned economists and professors to investigate the decision-making mindset ended up to the catastrophic setbacks of the Memoranda of Understanding in Greece. Bakoyannis’s sudden interest on the issue is explained by her strong will to topple current leader of the party Antonis Samaras, save her fate in domestic politics and remind us all of her leadership skills; Nonetheless, and aside the proposal, Tsipras knows that a possible rise of Bakoyannis in New Democracy leadership will erase Samaras from the frontline and eradicate his continuous inclination to xenophobia, far-right, and instability that above all are considered as risks to democracy and open dialogue.

Coming back to the international front and the visit to Moscow on April 8, conservative media and voices inside the EU point out that Tsipras’ s visit will further isolate Greece inside the EU. As a matter of fact, and if we take for granted that Greece is actually isolated, it has been so by the Eurozone member-states and not by Greece itself. From the first day in office, Tsipras was adamant on his goals to stop nonsense austerity in Greece and combat against deep-rooted pathogenies of the Greek political, media, and financial complex. Two months now he is trying to build on specific steps to recapitalize the image of Greece in the democratic world and the developed economies and give an end to the downfall of the country. It takes time to bring about reforms, and one these reforms is the strategic decision to establish multilateral commercial and economic ties with pivotal powers outside the EU.

With respect to Russia, the EU, and especially Germany, are hypocritical against Greece and Tsipras regarding his visit in Moscow. Why? Because Germany is the leading commercial partner of Russia in Europe, with Angela Merkel having built close relations with Putin ever since her rise in power. As I have stressed out in a previous post last year, Ukraine is just a pretext of a wider geopolitical struggle between Europe, US and Russia. Truth is that Germany does not want Athens to have close ties with Moscow for simply economic and commercial reasons, but also because it acknowledges, even without admitting it, that Greece has an unparalleled and privileged geopolitical position that can evolve under a targeted foreign policy strategy.

Tsipras’s meeting with Putin has been well-prepared already since January. Along with the discussions on trade and economy, Tsipras also wants to strengthen Greece’s position as a mediator between EU and Russia regarding sanctions, especially in a period that Germany does not want to hear anything about Russia. By testing Germany’s authoritative role in EU internal and external affairs, Tsipras and his government dare to shake Berlin’s monolithic approach.

Similarly goes the story with China. But this is a chapter we are planning to discuss in the coming days.

To contact the author or for media enquiries:

Email: d.rapidis@bridgingeurope.net

Twitter: @rapidis

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