Tsipras-Putin Sign New Trade Deal and Renew Greece-Russia Relations

Greece and Russia signed a trade deal that will bring Greece 4.2 billion euros and talked about the renewal of the deal for natural gas supply to Greece.

After the discussions between the two delegations, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked to the press. Tsipras stated that his visit to Moscow aims at the renewal of Greek-Russian relations. He said that Greece is a sovereign state and has the right to seek economic alliances wherever its interests lie and exploit its geopolitical position.

The Greek PM said the two countries will cooperate on a trade and cultural level and Russia will seek investments in tourism and infrastructure in Greece. He also called on investors to build a Greek pipeline bringing Russian natural gas to the country, thereby solving the energy problem.

On the issue of European Union sanctions imposed on Russia, Tsipras said he disagrees with the sanctions because they remind him of Cold War practices. On the issue of the Greek debt, he said that he would not go around to other countries asking them to solve a European problem that needs a European solution.

On his part, Putin stated that Greece did not ask Russia for financial aid. The trade deal the two countries signed will bring Greece 4.2 billion euros. He said he is interested in infrastructure investments, such as the Thessaloniki Port. He also said the Turkish Stream gas pipeline could make Greece an energy hub that could transport gas to central Europe.

Before the press conference, the two leaders and their delegations signed a Memorandum for “2016: Year of Greece-Russia relations,” a program of bilateral actions for 2015-2016 and a common official announcement for the 70 years since the end of World War II that will be celebrated in Moscow next month.

The Greek team of officials arrived in Moscow on Wednesday morning and after the welcome by Russian officials, Tsipras, accompanied by a Greek delegation that included World War II veterans, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall in downtown Moscow.

Putin welcomed the Greek PM and told reporters that the purpose of the meeting is to enhance Greek-Russian relations.

Tsipras stated that relations between the two countries have deep roots and their peoples share common traditions. He added that the aim of his visit is to restart relations for the benefit of the two peoples and that both countries should work for enhancing stability and security in the region.

Prior to the meeting, several top European officials criticized Tsipras’ move to visit Moscow at a time when crucial negotiations with creditors over the Greek debt have stalled. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande commented that the Greek PM’s visit to Moscow is a “sideshow.”

European Parliament President Martin Schulz has warned Tsipras that his true allies are in the European Union and not in Russia, and that he should stay within the EU line in regards to sanctions against Russia.

“We expect that all member-states are treated equally and we expect as well that all member-states speak with one voice to all our trade partners, including Russia,” EU Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said. Potential bilateral agreements to lift import bans from any state “are speculation for the moment,” he said.

Analysts warned Tsipras that he is playing a dangerous game, particularly if he truly intends to ask Russia for financial aid in exchange for refusing to abide by EU’s decision on the sanctions. On Wednesday morning, the Times wrote that “Tsipras Plays Russian Roulette on the Greek Debt.” Several analysts speculate, however, that the Greek PM’s move is aimed at the domestic audience only.

Prior to the two leaders’ meeting, Russia’s Agriculture Minister said on Tuesday that Moscow could consider removing Greece, Hungary and Cyprus from its ban on most Western food imports, imposed in retaliation for the EU sanctions over the Ukraine issue.

Also, according to Russian business newspaper Kommersant, a Russian government official said that Moscow may offer Greece a discount on natural gas and new loans.


  1. Greek Debt is split up as follows: €141.8 billion to the EFSF, €67.5 billion in bonds, €27 billon in ECB bonds, €52.9 billion in bilateral bonds, €25 billion in IMF loans, €15 billion in T bills, €13.3 billion in Other debt. As explained by in the article titled: “Europe’s manhandling of Greece is a strategic gift to Russia’s Vladimir Putin” the SYRIZA led Greek government might target an initial selective default on the ECB bonds.

    If Greece has to default, they would rather pick their fight with EU creditors and above all the ECB, enemy number one after it took the pre-emptive political decision of cutting off a key lifeline for Greek banks within days of the Greek election. A former ECB official said the fear is that Greece will kick off with a selective default to Frankfurt (ECB), judging this the easiest political target. It would cover both bonds and €80bn of “Target2” liabilities to the rest of the ECB network that have built up automatically due to capital flight.

    “The crucial point is that Target2 liabilities are not backed by collateral. The Greeks can simply abolish the Bank of Greece on a Friday evening, and create a new central bank to be ready on the next Monday morning. There is no court in Europe that can enforce a payment against a Bank of Greece that no longer exists. This is their best chance of protecting the Greek people but it will not be pretty for the ECB,” he said.

    If Syriza pulls the pin on the Target2 system it will cause trauma for the ECB – and possibly a forced recapitalisation at the cost of member states – and set off a political storm in Germany. Yet if these losses are crystallized in Greece, it is far from clear whether the German parliament would continue to allow Target2 to incubate much greater potential losses in the rest of southern Europe. Without Target2, the eurozone is finished as a functioning monetary union.

    Mr Putin must surely be smiling that he has won such an easy trick with such a weak hand. He watched in horror as the Soviet Union went into self-destruction a quarter century ago. This time he has the satisfaction of watching his much richer enemies tear themselves apart over mere money.

  2. You sad old git. Greece has more problems to worry about than Skopje, like where your next pension check will come from.

    This is the problem with Greeks like you. You get sidetracked from what the real problem is.