German politicians have expressed concern over Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to Moscow and urged the radical-left leader to adhere to the EU’s official strategy towards Russia.
The president of the European Parliament and prominent German social democrat Martin Schulz told daily Bild on Wednesday that Greece should not take steps which would undermine EU unity on sanctions against Russia, brought over the Ukraine crisis.
He said: “I can only advise Greece not to jeopardize the unity of the Europeans.”
“Greece asked for EU solidarity and also received that. Now we can also ask from Greece not to deviate from the commonly agreed measures.”
– ‘Bad conditions’
Tsipras criticized Western sanctions against Russia a day before he left for Moscow as being “a road to nowhere”.
He was expected to lobby in favor of Greek agricultural imports to Russia and discuss a natural gas deal that would extend the Turk Stream pipeline, which runs from Russia through Turkey to Europe into Greece.
Elmar Brok, a European Parliament lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, expressed worries over Tsipras’ visit, claiming some communist members of Greece’s SYRIZA-led coalition government were seeking to pull Greece out of the Western world and establish close ties with Russia.
“It must be clear that Russia cannot offer a perspective for Greece. The living conditions in Russia are so bad that the Greeks would not want to live under them,” Brok said.
He argued that the majority of the Greeks were also against changing the orientation of the country.
“Russia is not in a position to really finance Greece,” he added.
– Berlin cautious
The German government responded cautiously on Wednesday to the reports of policy change in Greece.
German Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said at a press conference in Berlin: “EU member states commonly agreed on sanctions and it was linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreement and this decision has also been supported by Greece.”
“For us, there has been no reason so far to think in concrete terms that the position of the Greeks has changed.”
“All the decisions related to sanctions have been supported by Greece so far and we hope that this would continue to be the case,” Chebli added.
She also noted that the leaders of the Greek government had conveyed to their European partners on various occasions that they saw the solutions to their problems and their future being within the EU.
– Reparations claim
Relations between Greece and its biggest creditor, Germany, have been strained recently due to the disagreements over the bailout program for Greece and repeated Greek claims for WWII reparations.
German government deputy spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz renewed Berlin’s position on Wednesday and argued that the reparations issue was legally closed by past agreements.
“German federal government believes that the reparations issue is completely settled with the Two Plus Four Treaty,” Wirtz said referring to the agreement signed in 1990.
She claimed that the forced loans taken by the Nazis was part of the reparations and also settled by the same agreement.