Alexis Tsipras: sanctions against Russia – road to nowhere

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“The economic war as a continuation of the present war is a deadlock policy,” said the Head of the Greek government in an interview with TASS.

Greece disagrees with the Western sanctions against Russia; it is a road to nowhere. This was stated by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in an exclusive interview with TASS Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman in connection with the upcoming visit to Moscow (April 8).

The Head of the Greek government noted that it was possible to bring the trade between the two countries to a new level. “We can have a solid partnership that will allow Greece to export agricultural products to the Russian Federation. You know that in recent years these relationships were damaged by the fact that the previous government in my country did not do what they could have done to avoid this senseless, in my opinion, sanction policy due to the tensions in Ukraine. It resulted in an embargo on Greek agricultural products, which caused significant damage to the Greek economy,” specified Tsipras.

Tsipras recalled that after he was appointed Prime Minister, he received a message from the President of the European Council (Donald Tusk), “who took for granted the position of Greece in favor of sanctions.” “I called him, and Federica Mogherini (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) to say: “Do not assume the position of Greece as a given, the situation has changed, and now Greece has another government. And now you have to ask us before making decisions,” admitted Tsipras. “We disagree with the sanctions. I believe it is a road to nowhere. I am a supporter of a dialogue, diplomacy; we should come to the negotiating table and find solutions to major problems,” he stated.

The Greek Prime Minister stressed that “the economic war as a continuation of the present war is a deadlock policy.” “I am for diplomacy. I consider the Minsk agreements a very important achievement. I believe we have to do everything in our power to end the tensions in Ukraine,” Tsipras added.

According to the Greek leader, during his first participation in the EU summit (19-20 March), he addressed to his colleagues, prime ministers and heads of state, to ask: “Tell me, how do you imagine a new security system in Europe? Do you image it with Russia on the opposite side or with Russia in the process of a dialogue and mutual understanding?” “I didn’t get an answer from many of them. In my view, the answer is clear: the new European security system must include Russia,” said Tsipras.

Cooperation potential: energy and tourism

The relations between Russia and Greece have a great potential, especially in the sphere of energy and tourism, said Alexis Tsipras.

According to the Government Head, the cooperation between Russia and Greece has a great potential, particularly in the area of energy. “I think that the opportunities to strengthen our relationships are connected with tourism, as well as with various cultural events. In Russia, in addition to very important meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, I will have a possibility to make a speech in one of the main Moscow universities. From this point of view, I think that educational cooperation between Greek and Russian universities is also a very important aspect of strengthening our mutual relations,” explained the PM.

The Prime Minister believes that Greece and Russia have common roots, common struggle, common religion, and culture. “Your country has a rich culture and the Greek culture is also the world civilization cradle. I think that in these areas we can develop and enhance our cooperation,” said Tsipras.

In PM’s opinion, 2016 is an important opportunity for relations development, because it will be Russian-Greek Bilateral Year.

“In 2015 we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Great anti-fascist Victory. This event is very important for both Russian and Greek people. Our nations had developed fraternal relations fighting together in critical historical moments. Greece and Russia paid with their own blood in the struggle against fascism, and it is a common foundation, as well as the common religion,” added the Greek diplomat.

“Greece can be bridge between West and Russia”

The visit to Moscow will provide a new groundwork for Russian-Greek international cooperation, said Tsipras.

According to him, this visit “will give a new groundwork for Russian-Greek relations.” “This is a real opportunity to restart them, give them a new impetus,” highlighted Tsipras.

The Prime Minister noted that in the past years the relations with Russia were “frozen”.

“I do not know whether it looks like a Siberian winter, but it was winter, and now we are in spring and we should maintain it to have real development of our relations,” said Tsipras, adding that it is necessary to consider cooperation in a number of key areas .

“We are in a tense geopolitical situation that has common challenges and we should decide how to meet them. We should have a look at how our nations and countries can actually cooperate in many fields (economy, energy, trade, agriculture) and decide where we can help each other and decide how our collaboration can be constructive, because I truly believe that Greece, as a EU member, can be a link, a bridge between the West and Russia,” said the PM.

Text and pictures by TASS