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Putin and Tsipras Start a New Era in Russian-Greek Relations

Greek Premier Tsipras said Greece “openly disapproves” of European anti-Russian sanctions and will use all opportunities to boost cooperation with Russia

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This article originally appeared in The BRICS Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday in Moscow during which the two sides discussed economic ties, energy security and world affairs and inked bilateral agreements on agriculture.

<figcaption>Trade and investments were at the top of the agenda</figcaption>
Trade and investments were at the top of the agenda

Putin, in a joint press conference following talks, said the two leaders discussed major infrastructure projects like the Turkish Stream among other energy projects.

“We agree to pay more attention to investments, we discussed cooperation in energy sector. We discussed [the] possibility to supply Russian gas to Greece via Turkish Stream,” Putin said on Wednesday.

“The new route will provide for the Europeans’ needs in fuel, and would allow Greece to become one of the main power distribution centers on the continent, [which] could help attract significant investments into the Greek economy,” Putin added.

Tsipras said that Athens is interested in attracting investments for construction of the pipeline on Greek territory from the Turkish border.

Greek-Russia bilateral trade more than doubled over 2009–2013 but fell by 40 per cent in 2014. Greece-EU bailout talks are still in a deadlock as Athens struggles to revive the economy that is facing billions of euros in debt and interest payments.

Meanwhile, the Greek prime minister said in Moscow that European leaders must respect the sovereignty of Greece and its right to improve ties with countries like Russia.

“We have spring in Russian-Greek relations,” Tsipras said. “Greece is a sovereign state and will use its geopolitical role as European country. We will use all opportunities to boost cooperation with Russia.”

Putin said Russia is not “forcing anyone into anything” but noted that “just because Greece is debt-ridden, does it mean that it can not have an independent foreign policy?”

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Sawsan Chebli said Tuesday at a press briefing in Berlin that Greece is expected to continue supporting EU sanctions against Russia.

Greek Premier Tsipras said on Wednesday, however, that Greece “openly disapproves” of European anti-Russian sanctions, because the EU economic war against Russia could lead to a new Cold War.

“We do not entirely share the EU stance on economic sanctions against Russia. We will promote new solution based on dialogue,” said Tsipras in Moscow.

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