Germany and EU Need Much More from Greece than Money

Greece europeGreece’s geopolitical position may play a more important role in negotiations over the state debt than Greek finances, a Bloomberg report says.

With war in Syria and the advancement of the Islamic State to the east, the failure of Libya to the south, the skirmishes in Ukraine to the north adding, Greece has a strategic position and its ports in the Mediterranean are of great importance to Europe and NATO.

Greece has more than 200 fighter jets and 1,000 tanks. NATO facilities include a military base in Crete that was used during the airstrikes on Libya in 2011.

That alone is enough for Germany to give concessions to the Alexis Tsipras government in the negotiations over Greece’s bailout, according to Bloomberg.

“One would be justified to ask whether Europe, the U.S. and NATO could afford the creation of a security vacuum and a black hole in a critical region,” Thanos Dokos, director of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, an Athens-based research institute, told Bloomberg by e-mail. That may not be “an acceptable loss for an EU with any ambitions to play a meaningful global and regional role,” he said.

This could be a strong weapon in negotiations with the rest of the euro zone finance ministers, according to Dimitris Kourkoulas, a former deputy foreign minister. “This is probably the last bargaining card Tsipras has,” Kourkoulas said in an interview.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is flirting with Greece at the same time that Germany is maintaining a rigid stance demanding the indebted country continues with the current bailout program. Greece is reciprocating the courting, as Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias visited Moscow and his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the previous week, rekindling relations between the two countries.

So far, negotiations between Greece and its lenders bore no fruit as both sides refuse to budge.

“Negotiations between the new Greek government and its official creditors seem to be running into a brick wall, “Neil Mackinnon, a London-based strategist at VTB Capital Plc, part of Russia’s VTB Group, said this week. “Geo-politics and U.S. pressure to keep Greece in NATO might play a part in the EU blinking first and making a compromise over the debt.” the Bloomberg report concludes.