Greece Backs Strong EU Action on Russia Amid Putin Ukraine Moves
(Bloomberg) -- Greece will support a strong European Union reaction to any Russian invasion of Ukraine, even as Athens called for improved relations between Moscow and the bloc, government minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said.
Noting that Greece has complied with the EU’s “severe” sanctions since Russia’s 2014 incursion into Crimea, Varvitsiotis -- whose position as alternate foreign minister includes responsibilities for European affairs -- said similar measures will follow “if something new were to occur that jeopardizes the stability, security and integrity of Ukraine.”
Greece’s desire to maintain its ties with Moscow “by no means undermines our responsibilities or our commitment to the solidarity and unity of both NATO and the EU,” Varvitsiotis said during an interview in Athens.
The Greek government favors “further engagement between the European Union and Russia,” Varvitsiotis said. “But this shouldn’t happen under the conditions put forward such as sovereign countries being limited in the possibility of joining the European Union or NATO in the future.”
The 52-year-old Varvitsiotis regularly accompanies Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to EU summits and also did the groundwork for Mitsotakis’s December meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Talks between the U.S. and Russia last week failed to produce a breakthrough on Ukraine, with Washington and the EU warning of a “massive” economic response if Moscow invades its neighbor.
In the interview, Varvitsiotis warned that Russia would lose out if it decided to curtail gas exports to Europe. “I don’t think there are other markets ready to import this Russian gas,” he said.
Europe has alternatives to Russian supplies including gas discoveries off Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, the minister said. Power produced in the region from these sources could also be exported to Europe.
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