As finance ministers from across Europe held emergency meetings in Brussels in an effort to keep a newly assertive Greece in the currency union, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated an offer from Moscow to provide Greece with the funding it needs to ease punishing austerity programs and rebuild its economy.
Last week, Tsipras discussed bolstering ties with Russia in a phone call with Putin, according to a statement released by his office. “The Russian president and the prime minister emphasized the need for substantial improvement of the cooperation between Greece and Russia — countries with deep and historic ties — especially in the sectors of economy, energy, tourism, culture and transport,” said a statement from Tsipras’s office, also noting that Putin had invited Tsipras to visit Moscow in May.
Then Wednesday, as the EU finance ministers were trying to hammer out a deal with Greece, Lavrov, Russian’s foreign minister, again raised the issue of Russia riding to the rescue of the Greek people in a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
He said they also discussed further cooperation on the issue of energy. “We discussed energy cooperation, considering Athens’ interest in the plans of building a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey and to the Greek border,” Lavrov said. “We believe this project has good prospects.”
Lavrov also threw in some praise for the Greek government’s initial resistance to an EU plan to extend economic sanctions against Russia over its continued aggression in eastern Ukraine. “We appreciate the stance of the Greek government, which understands the complete counter-productivity of attempts to speak this language with Russia,” he said.