Tsipras Sought No Financial Aid from Moscow, Putin Says
Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hasn’t asked for financial aid from Russia during talks in Moscow, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Putin said at a joint news conference with Tsipras that they had only discussed various economic cooperation projects, including new projects in the energy sector such as extending the planned Turkish Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey into the EU via Greece.
"Under these plans, we could provide loans for certain projects," he said, adding that it was not a question of aid.
A decision by Greece to join the Turkish Stream project will raise the country's geopolitical profile as Greece “will become a large transit country both for the entire south of Europe and, possibly, for Central Europe," according to Putin.
Prior to Tsipras’ visit there had been speculation that he would seek Russian financial aid to alleviate Greece's debt crisis and counter pressure from its creditors in the EU. Greece is facing a Thursday deadline to repay EUR 460 M in debt to the IMF.
Tsipras, who came to power in January riding on a wave of anti-austerity sentiment in his country, has made no secret of seeking closer ties with Moscow at a time when Russia’s relations with the West are at a post-Cold War low over the conflict in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, he also called for an end to the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU over Moscow’s role in the conflict in Ukraine. The retaliatory Russian ban on imports of agricultural products from the EU has hit Greece particularly hard as those products made more than 40% of its exports to Russia.
Putin, however, said the ban on imports of Greek farm products would remain in force.
"We cannot make an exception for one country in the European Union," the Russian President said.
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