Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Minister for Finance and President of Eurogroup (on the left), Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister for Finance. Eurozone finance ministers participated in an Extraordinary Eurogroup meeting on 11 February in Brussels, especially staged to discuss the Greek issue. (European Council, Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services, Shoot location: Brussels – Belgium. Shoot date: 11/02/2015).

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Minister for Finance and President of Eurogroup (on the left), Yanis Varoufakis, Greek Minister for Finance. Eurozone finance ministers participated in an Extraordinary Eurogroup meeting on 11 February in Brussels, especially staged to discuss the Greek issue. (European Council, Council of the European Union Audiovisual Services, Shoot location: Brussels – Belgium. Shoot date: 11/02/2015).

The world community will be watching very closely today’s gathering of the 28 leaders of the European Union in Brussels. The reason is that its agenda includes two crucial issues; the economic fate of Greece and a discussion on the outcome of a conference in Minsk, Belarus for the future of Ukraine. Yesterday afternoon both those issues were given a first but in-depth scrutiny in two separate gatherings. The Greek minister of Finance Yianis Varoufakis had to convince his Eurozone peers about a new rehabilitation program for his country, during a Eurogroup consultation. At the same time the leaders of France and Germany met with the Russian President at the Belarus capital Minsk to resolve the Ukrainian stalemate.

In the face of it the two issues are completely unrelated. This is a small world though and problems of such importance are interconnected through invisible but important ways. For example, if Greece exits from the Eurozone, Athens might find it helpful to approach Moscow, probably for a better arrangement concerning its imports of Russian oil and gas. In such a perspective Greece’s stance on the Ukrainian question and other topics may become more perceptive to the Russian positions, at a great cost to EU’s unity. Such an eventuality may produce even more destructive results for the EU, if Greece also leaves the EU after abandoning the Eurozone.

Greece: What if…

Presently Greece solicits from Eurozone a more relaxed handling of her financial problems. The over-indebted and crisis stricken country wants to put an end to five years of severe austerity programs imposed on her by its euro area partners/creditors. Athens also asks for a restructuring of her debts. The new government of Alexis Tsipras doesn’t seem ready to settle for anything less. Most likely this is what Varoufakis told his 18 Eurozone colleagues late yesterday night in Brussels. The final answer will very probably be given today, well after midnight, by the European Council of the 28 heads of states and governments in the presence of Tsipras.

Athens can advance very convincing arguments. After five years of relentless efforts Greece has achieved fiscal and foreign account balances. This may be a good base for Athens to stand alone on her own feet outside the euro area, of course after printing an own national currency, say the new Drachma. Such a step would bolster the competitiveness of the country’s exports and the tourist sector. Apart from that Moscow might propose to help Athens with cheaper deliveries of oil and gas, which could be paid (under a system of clearing, with no money changing hands) with Greek agricultural products that Russia badly needs.

Greeks have nothing against Russia

Presently Greek food stuffs are blocked out from the Russian markets under a wider embargo on EU products imposed by Moscow, in retaliation of Brussels’ economic sanctions against Russia. At the time when the EU sanctions and the ensuing Russian embargo were imposed, the Greek farmers had problems understanding why they had to lose millions because Brussels wanted to punish Moscow. They just couldn’t export any more to their Russian Christian Orthodox brothers. Actually a large part of the Greek public opinion is positively inclined towards Russia, in direct contrast with say Poland or the tiny Baltic republics.

Understandably it’s not without good reason, that even the slightest possibility of Greece exiting the Eurozone and probably also abandoning the EU altogether, has alarmed the United States. This was more than evident last Monday when the American President Barack Obama publicly almost accused the German Chancellor Angela Merkel for that. In their joint Press conference after a very crucial meeting in Washington on Ukraine and Greece Obama said: “Angela, the United Sates expect the German appraisal of how could Greece return to growth remaining within the Eurozone”.

It was as if Washington was reproaching Berlin for the Greek woes. Of course Merkel responded that Greece has to comply with the rules of Eurozone. However Obama’s wording and his approach of a solemn statement sent a clear American message to European partners, that this is the worst moment for Eurozone and the entire West to lose Greece. That’s why IMF’s Christine Lagarde had only good things to say about Varoufakis yesterday, after meeting him ahead of the Eurogroup gathering in Brussels. IMF is strongly influenced by the US.

Ukraine and the West

The truth is that Greece probably aided by Turkey in the crucial business of oil pipe-lines laying could end Russia’s severance from the rest of Europe. Who can’t see that Poland and Kiev have formed a formidable wall cutting off Russia from the rest of the continent, like the Iron Curtain of the Cold War? This is a massive geostrategic American project to discipline and neutralise Russia, now being at risk if a depressed Greece is shown to the door of Eurozone by an irritatingly obstinate Germany. This is exactly what the US wants to avoid in order for the Warsaw – Kiev ‘wall’ to hold well.

Let’s now turn to yesterday’s Minsk meeting. According to a Reuters report early on Wednesday, the Russians expected a last minute agreement for a truce in eastern Ukraine to be struck between Poroshenko, Hollande, Merkel and Putin. In any case and whatever the outcome of the Minsk meeting, the two Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk will gain some form of autonomy. It seems, that what remains to be agreed between the West and Russia, are some minor geographical fine points in the ‘border line’ of the two provinces with the rest of the country. As for Crimea this is already Russian territory and nobody can change that.

Connecting Athens to Kiev

Then the fact remains that Kiev (under the complete control of the West) together with Poland, a Russophobe and stout EU member, constitute a solid ‘barrier’ cutting off Russia from the rest of Europe. Add to that the sanctions against Moscow plus the crumbling prices of hydrocarbons and Russia’s future doesn’t look bright at all.

Then only a kicked out from the EU Greece could moderate the isolation of Russia from the rest of Europe. And a Greek rift could be just the beginning… But this won’t happen because later on tonight the New Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras will be given by his EU peers a good chance to revitalize his ailing country. Greece will most probably remain a solid EU member state and Athens will continue to be a Eurozone capital and a Western cosmopolitan center, no matter what happened during yesterday’s Eurogroup.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Security Council should ‘nurture’ Colombian consensus against return to violence, top UN official urges

Further reforms will move Slovakia toward a more innovative and inclusive society

As Saudi women take the wheel, UN chief hopes end of driving ban creates more opportunities for kingdom’s women and girls

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

4 ways blockchain will transform the mining and metals industry

EU deserves the title of the Syrian affair merchandiser

UN experts urge United Arab Emirates to release terminally ill woman to live her last days ‘in dignity’

Bundesbank’s President Weidmann criticises France and the EU. Credibility at risk?

Drought in Europe: Member States agree on support measures proposed by the Commission

UN launches ‘South-South Galaxy’ knowledge-sharing platform in Buenos Aires

How biotechnology is evolving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

This AI trash can is designed to stop you wasting food

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

Parliament approves EU rules requiring life-saving technologies in vehicles

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ford trumpets new in-vehicle system, “fundamentally rethinks” transportation

Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

Confidence-building measures continue in new Yemen prisoner-swap talks

Mergers: Commission clears E.ON’s acquisition of Innogy, subject to conditions

“We need to use the momentum globally to ensure that corporations pay their fare share of taxation”, EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis outlines from the World Economic Forum 2017.

EP Group leaders on Brexit: “the agreement is not open to renegotiation”

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

115 rejections and no pay. What it really takes to be an entrepreneur

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

Davos: Why the global elites couldn’t find answers this year?

‘Staunch support’ for Iran nuclear deal tempered by concern over missile testing

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Hunger crisis in DR Congo, Swine Fever in Asia, Venezuela death investigation call, updates on Eritrea and Syria

Central Asia: the European Union matches political commitment with further concrete support

No agreement in sight on EU budget

Climate change is destroying a barrier that protects the US from hurricanes

SMEs turning to alternative financing instruments as growth slows in bank lending

Where are the charities in the great Artificial Intelligence debate?

Activist Greta Thunberg gets preview of UNHQ ahead of climate summit

New SDG Advocates sign up for ‘peace, prosperity, people’ and planet, on the road to 2030

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

Japan’s agro-food sector would benefit greatly from policies to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable resource use

The new Kiev rulers ask $35 billion from the West

UN chief welcomes start of Church-mediated national dialogue in Nicaragua

General Assembly officially adopts roadmap for migrants to improve safety, ease suffering

The EU lets the bankers go on rigging the benchmarks

Is “Sustainable Development” a concept that integrates Health Literacy and Health Policy as a global health action?

New UN report shows record number of children killed and maimed in conflict

The megatrend that will shape our working future

Project Manager – 2024

EU joint response to disasters: deal reached with Council

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees

MEPs and EU ministers agree on closing information gaps to enhance security

The EU Commission is lying to the “Right2Water” campaign

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Here are three ways blockchain can change refugees’ lives

Bankers don’t go to jail because they are more equal than us all

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Building a Sustainable Future – speech by UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw at the LPAA Thematic Event on Buildings

The EU bows to Turkey in view of the talks for a political settlement in Syria

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Miraculous’ music made by hearing-impaired children

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s