Vladimir Putin has completed his 2-day state visit to Greece, where he met with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and Greek president. At the airport Putin was lavishly greeted, complete with red carpet, honorary guard and 3 jets flying overhead in his honor.
Putin arriving to Greece:
Greece, much like Italy, Cyprus, Hungary and France, as well as Germany, is trying to find a way to bypass sanctions and to increase trade with Russia. If you ask me, the easiest way to ‘bypass’ sanctions is to simply end them. But Brussels and Berlin play games, and this is what gets the rest of Europe in trouble.
One area for both Italy and Greece that may shine is Russian tourism, especially after Russian tourism left Turkey and Egypt. Another area could be investments. As I mentioned before, Italians are active at investing in Crimea, and so are Germans. Russian companies would be glad to invest in EU, should the opportunities present themselves. Russian energy is always of great interest for Greece, Italy and most of Europe. However, the political games being played make it difficult for businesses to make deals based on reason and necessity.
In view of the EU sanctions, Russia works with certain separate countries, such as Greece and Italy.
The clear three reasons Italy and Greece are at the forefront of friendly relations with Russia are:
- Their economy is more dependent on trade with Russia and, therefore, they have much more to lose from bad relations with Russia;
- Club Med countries suffer more than Germanic countries from EU’s economic downturn and their need for additional markets is much stronger than for some Western European counties;
- Greece and Italy are traditionally some of the most friendly to Russia countries in the EU.
Greek PM Tsipras talked about the pressing need to remove sanctions and proposed to serve as an intermediary between Russia and EU.
During the visit, Putin mentioned that it was time to translate the great relations between Greece and Russia into mutual economic benefit.
Putin – Tsipras meetup video: Russia and Greece sign various documents re. improving trade relations, energy, tourism and other cooperation agreements.
Notice the important symbolism and body language on the above video image!
Putin and Tsipras are clearly leaning towards each other. This always denotes mutual trust and affinity. In fact, Tsipras is leaning towards Putin more.
Now, let’s look at Putin’s arms. They are open, which means he has nothing to hide. But Tsipras arms are folded, which means he is guarded or isn’t as open as he’d like to be. The reason for this regrettable (as Tsipras is, no doubt, considering – just look at his pensive face) guardedness is revealed by the flag situation to the right of the image. Greek flag is there next to the EU flag, sort of juxtaposing itself to the Russian flag on the other side.
Here is the hidden message conveyed:
‘We, Greece are talking to Russia, but haven’t forgotten that we are a member of the EU, whether we like it or not.’
In fact, as revealed by the combination of Tsipras’ body language, the fact of Putin being met as a very special guest upon arrival to Greece, and the added symbolism of the flags, there is a dissonance being present.
Tsipras hidden message is: we would love to have tighter and more intimate relations with Russia; in fact, that would be our preference, but we are confined by our membership in EU, which imposes severe limitations on who and to what degree we can be friends with.
During his visit to Greece, Vladimir Putin also visited the Sacred Mount Athos (RUS: Гора Афон), the so-called Republic of the Monks, housing 20 Orthodox monasteries, including a 1000-year-old Russian monastery. During service, the monks put Putin in the emperor’s place. Since you can’t sit during an Orthodox service, on visits to Mount Athos Byzantium Emperors of old would stand in a specially constructed, gilded honorary portico.
Putin in Byzantium emperor’s portico. Photo says: ‘Greece treats Putin like king during visit’:
Brief video – Putin on Mount Athos:
This is a longer, 25 min video of Putin’s visit to Mount Athos:
The monks recall a story of this good omen: during Putin’s first visit to Mount Athos in 2005, a donkey appeared on the road, and it ran in the center of the road in front of, and then next to, Putin’s car all the way down hill. On Putin’s way back, the donkey waited for him and again ran in front of his car, this time all the way uphill. The monks interpreted that as a fortunate sign from the Holy Mother, the patroness of Mount Athos.
In conclusion: Dmitry Medvedev has dropped a sanctions bombshell
Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia intends to extend her anti-EU/US food and agricultural embargo (aka, return sanctions) till the end of 2017. This is what Russian domestic agricultural producers ask us to do, said Medvedev.
Recall that I predicted this outcome from the beginning of the 2014 events. I said that EU’s anti-Russian sanctions are a blessing in disguise and that Russia will use them to strengthen domestic agricultural producers, as well manufacturers, who will be able to occupy the shelves with their products, previously entirely filled by imports.
I also said that the longer EU continues with sanctions, the more European products will find themselves squeezed out of the Russian market.
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Added 4/8/15: Greece – Russia Breakthrough: What did #Tsipras and #Putin discuss in Moscow – latest updates!
As I predicted in this post and in my earlier article and video (see links below), during today’s meeting in Moscow, Putin and Tsipras signed documents related to the extention of the Turkish Stream through Greece, making Greece into a major Russian gas distribution hub for Europe, including the Balcans, Hungary, Austria and Italy. Russia also offered Greece a credit. To bypass Russian agri sanctions against EU, Putin proposed joint Greek-Russian agricultural ventures. 50% of Greek imports to Russia were agriculture and food. Greece suffers tremendous losses from Russian EU agri ban, and the new joint venture plan is to reverse that . Putin’s video announcement in Russian.
Generally, Russia will continue the strategy of working with separate EU countries that want to do business with Russia, thus bypassing the unfriendly regimes and giving preferential treatement to the friendly ones.
In his statement, Putin also called on EU to terminate any sanctions against Russia, and Russia would then terminate any return sanctions against EU. Putin said that Russia is for working and having cordial relations with the entire “United Europe.”
4/7/15. Original article:
The Greek Dilemma: Between Russia and EU. PREDICTIONS by Lada Ray
Today’s Greek Dilemma: Between Russia and the EU. Or, between Moscow and the Hard Place.
Once the Greek government announced that PM Alexis Tsipras would be visiting Moscow on April 8 to talk to Putin, the howling among EU politicians and MSM became deafening.
The truth is, EU policies make countries that are in financial trouble seek help elsewhere. On one hand, EU talks about unity and EU values, on another creates an impossible situation for countries like Greece. By April 9, Greece has to come up with nearly €450 mln to repay IMF, and the money is scarce.
Right now, the new Greek government wants to play on differences between EU and Russia, which run deep due to Ukraine crisis. Another place where Greece can seek financing is China. But that will only happen after all the negotiations with Russia are complete and depending on their result. In the end, Russia may even broker a Greece-China deal, or the deal may be split between Russia and China. Basically, Russia is ready to consider Greek request, as announced by Russian FM Lavrov.
In a way, Greece is playing Russia and EU against each other. But the long-term consequences run much deeper. They range from Greece declaring bankruptcy and exiting the EU… to getting closer to Russia and China, with the end result of exiting the EU.
Should I say, I told you so? I have described this scenario in my article Predictions: The beginning of the EU End? When Will Greece Exit EU? Who Is Next?.
For more also see this LadaRayLive video: LRL6. Secret Connection: Russian Gas to Turkey-Greek Election-EU Breakup.
In the above pieces, I made a prediction that Greece would leave the EU around 2017. I feel that until then, Greece will try to work with EU in an effort to prevent default and further destruction of its economy, but these attempts won’t bring the desired result. All the relations, financial ties and debt relative to the EU will take some time to unwind. That’s why it will take until 2017 for Greece to disentangle from this mess (more on this topic in my above video and article).
The timing is also related to the timeline of the Turkish Stream, projected to be completed in 2017.
German taxpayer would bear most of the responsibility for bailing out Greece. From this perspective, Germany is right to be stingy. But Greece also has a trump card, which wouldn’t have been used if Germany weren’t squeezing Greece so hard. It is the thorny and long-buried issue of reparations the Nazi Germany never paid for the destruction during WWII. Will Greece get reparations? Not likely. But this toughness will help them bargain for a new bailout, or another payment postponement. This is a good bargaining chip to be sure that can be dangled every time Greece wants something from Germany.
The left-wing Syriza party currently in power is taking this tough bargaining position following its election promises to end austerity and re-negotiate country’s debt. It is clear that Syriza means business.
Relations between Greece and Russia
I said in my above-referenced pieces that Greece potentially can benefit tremendously from the Turkish Stream built by Russia through Turkey to the border with Greece. Russia proposes that Greece participate in the project by extending the pipeline through its territory to allow Russian gas to reach the target countries, such as Austria, Serbia and Hungary. This alone is tremendous incentive for Greece to take a pro-Russian position in the EU.
You’ll recall that the original South Stream from Russia to the EU was supposed to go through Bulgaria. However, after pressure from Brussels and a visit from McCain, Bulgaria suddenly disallowed South Stream through its territory, in direct opposition to the country’s interests. Who needs $750 mln a year in transit fees, new jobs, heavy gas discounts, business tourism and other perks. But Uncle McCain said no, and Bulgaria replied, ‘how high do you want me to jump?’ As a result, Russia cancelled South Stream.
None of what happened with Bulgaria is possible with the current leftist Greek government. McCain is certainly not invited. Many countries are interested in Russian gas going through Greece and this project is very much supported by Austria, Serbia and Hungary, among others.
Apart from that, the ruling Syriza party, being left-wing, is naturally and historically sympathetic to Russia.
Finally, Greece in general is traditionally, since centuries past, is staunchly pro-Russian. Greece, together with Cyprus, is even considered a ‘Russian Trojan Horse’ in the EU.
Greece is Orthodox, like Russia, not Catholic or Protestant. Similarity in religion creates affinity.
In addition, Greeks are eternally grateful to Russians for liberating them from the Turkish Osmanic Empire’s domination – and this is one of those cases when the country actually remembers the good. It’s interesting that at this point Greece, Turkey and Russia are working closely together, illustrating that nothing is eternal and things do change.
Therefore, old friendship and affinity run pretty deep. In this regard, nothing has to be built or created anew. The foundation is there, and all that has to be done is one small step towards each other. How far it will go is a different story because there is certain benefit for Russia if Greece stays in the EU – as I said, someone has to conduct pro-Russian policy within excessively russophobic EU. But there are also huge benefits to Greece turning closer to Russia.
Related videos by RT:
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Click to listen: Putin’s Disappearance and the New Silk Road
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