(In collaboration with Termometro Politico)
“The vicious cycle of austerity is over”. Alexis Tsipras had stated these words during its political campaign. They became the mantra of the process that Greek leftist movement pointed out until it became the most influential political force in the country. Is it still a realistic goal? If it is, at what price? Tsipras’ revolution has been mitigated by the purpose to cooperate with the EU. Has it been suspended after the agreement with the Eurogroup?
The agreement with the Eurogroup
In the days following the election of the Greek Prime Minister, European countries were looking for all kind of alliances to convince the European Union to reduce the restrictions imposed on Athens. Tsipras’ tour did not have any effect and, moreover, the agreement for the extension of the loan seemed to be a defeat, a palliative treatment for an extended agony. Furthermore, in the next months the Greek government will have to do its famous “homework” respecting the agreement with creditors. That means it will have to propose credible reforms. Almost nothing has changed from the pre-Tsipras period.
The possible plan B for Athens
Does a plan B exist? The question raised by the Greek government is above all an economic issue. Greece needs credit and if Putin financed Athens, it wouldn’t make a great difference. But, obviously, it raises questions on the reliability of the Russian Federation and on the risk that if the European Union maintains its hard position with Athens, Greece will be driven into the arms of a country which is, at the moment, an enemy of Brussels.
Why should Tsipras ally with Putin? In the last few years what has clearly emerged is that the EU countries don’t share a common foreign policy. The Ukrainian crisis had proved that. In that case, also Athens reiterated its opposition against the increase of the sanctions on Moscow. At the same time, on February, Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov, met Greek Foreign Ministry, Kotzias, and he said the Russian Federation will sustain Greece if it will be in need. A not so masked alliance offer.
Is it a zero-sum game?
The alliance between Athens and Moscow is nothing new. Some analysts said that it had its origins from the common Orthodox Christianity. It is most likely due to the need to protect the economic mutual interests of the two countries. Greece export sector has suffered from the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by the European Union. Moreover, many exponents of the Tsipras’ government are very closed to some of the richest Russian magnates. The new Greek government reaffirmed its support to the TAP pipeline. It will reach Italy by passing through Greece. However, a stronger relation with Moscow could jeopardize this project.
The paradox, in this situation, is that Athens can use a sort of moral suasion through its approach to Moscow. For Brussels it represents a serious damage. However, Athens itself doesn’t know how credible is its threat and how tight will be the relation with Putin. What is certain is that, for the European Union, one more time, strategic errors and domestic misunderstandings had allowed an external power affecting the European project and jeopardizing it. In this crucial moment the Russian Federation represents a shelter for any movement against Europe. The European Union should ask itself a question on it, an effect which is mainly due to the political measures EU has carried out.
Master’s degree in International Relations (LUISS “Guido Carli”)