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Srdja Trifkovic on RT published January 28, 2015.
A strongly worded anti-Russian statement, which was issued on January 27 by European Union heads of governments, did not have the consent of Greece’s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, according to Greek officials. They insist that the European Council, the body which issued the statement, did not follow the correct procedure to win Athens’ consent.
In Tuesday’s statement, EU leaders asked the bloc’s foreign ministers to consider further sanctions against Russia as a response to the latest violence in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow held “responsibility” for the rebels’ actions.
Greece’s discontent with the EU over this statement may give new momentum to other European countries, and make it easier for them to have courage to say “no” to the dictate from Brussels, Srdja Trifkovic told RT.
RT: How come the EU issued this strong statement without the consent of all the members?
Srdja Trifkovic: Because it is very difficult in the EU to be the first country to break ranks. Now that the Greeks have made the move I confidently expect that, the Hungarians in particular, but perhaps also Slovakia and Cyprus, will find it easier to garner courage and say “no” to the dictate from Brussels. I believe that the move such as announced by the government in Athens can have momentum. Once you have the first voice countering the dictates and faits accomplis from Brussels, then maybe some other countries will follow suit. In particular Budapest, Bratislava and Nicosia are to be watched in this respect.
RT: Is this the first time the Council of the European Union has issued a statement like this without seeking consent?
ST: To my knowledge this is the first such occasion. It reflects above all the ideological commitment of the Polish President of the EU, Donald Tusk, who has been well known during the seven years of his prime ministership of Poland as an enemy of Russia, to impose these sanctions… Obviously in order to do so, because of his deep commitment, he is prepared to cut corners. But I believe that the Greeks and maybe others will now call him to task for that.
RT: Is this the beginning of strained relations between Greece and the rest of the EU?
ST: The real test will come on Thursday, when several countries – including the UK in particular – will be asking for additional sanctions against Russia in the wake of the Mariupol deaths. If the Greeks decidedly act against this then it will herald a crisis, because in March there will be a need for unanimity when the first package of sanctions against Russia comes up for renewal, and then in June and July – the second package. Without the Greeks they simply cannot be renewed because all 28 [EU countries] have to be in favor. Donald Tusk will not be able to pretend yet again that unanimity does exist when it doesn’t.
RT: Some sources suggest that Greece has even tried to remove a line which blames Russia for the Mariupol shelling. Does Moscow have a new friend in Europe?
ST: Moscow has quite a few friends in Europe. One of them is the Prime Minister of Hungary, [Viktor] Orban. Also there are many other parties all over Europe that are aware that the policy of sanctions is harming Europe more than it’s harming Russia, and that it’s only serving the interests of the US government and its fellow travelers within the EU. The task for Russia is to apply its soft power skillfully and in a carefully measured way. I believe that both on the left and on the right of the political spectrum in Europe it has actual and potential friends – in particular on the left, as we’ve seen now with Greece, and on the right with the Front National in France, with the Freedom Party in Austria, and in various other places.
So far Europe has been governed for too long by center-left and center-right parties, such as the German Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, who do not offer anything substantially new. With these new parties, both on the left and on the right, I believe that the attitude to Russia will be changed.
My worry in this is that these New Left parties will quickly establish credibility on the diplomatic front and then use this credibility to pursue a decade-plus long program of demagogically-fed domestic havoc. For all their anti-American posture, I really don't think the likes of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff or Hugo Chavez have much to inspire right-wing nationalists.
From what I'm reading, on Thursday the Greeks caved in and approved the continuation of sanctions.
At least no new sanctions on Russia have been imposed. Apart from Greece, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary objected the new sanctions. Mr Kotzias (the new Foreign Minister) said that a provision that would have imposed further sanctions on Russia was removed at Greece’s insistence from the proposals at the meeting.
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