25th Mar 2018

Greece says No to EU statement on Russia

  • Tsipras - one EU diplomat said he tried to water down the EU text (Photo:

The new far-left government in Greece dropped a bombshell on its first day in office by abjuring an EU statement on Russia.

It said in a press communique on Tuesday (27 January): “the aforementioned statement was released without the prescribed procedure to obtain consent by the member states and particularly without ensuring the consent of Greece”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“In this context, it is underlined that Greece does not consent to this statement”.

It added that its new PM, Alexis Tsipras, expressed “discontent” in a phone call to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini.

The EU statement on Russia, published on Tuesday morning, claimed all 28 leaders had agreed Russia bears “responsibility” for a rocket attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which killed 30 people.

It also called on foreign ministers to “consider any appropriate action” - further sanctions on Russia.

It was drafted by the cabinet of EU Council chief Donald Tusk, a Russia-critical Pole, on Monday evening.

His people say he phoned Tsipras and that they contacted all the capitals' “sherpas” - senior officials dealing with EU issues in each leader's private office.

They also say no one on the Greek side voiced objections until Tuesday morning.

They then suggested adding a footnote to the statement, but “as Greece did not want such a footnote, it was clear to us that we could publish the statement as agreed in the evening”.

The Greek embassy to the EU is playing down the fiasco as confusion linked to the hand-over of power in Athens.

But one EU diplomat told this website Greece tried to remove the line blaming Russia for the Mariupol killing.

He said Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia also tried, and failed, to “water down” the communique.

An EU Council official noted that the situation - a retroactive abjuration of an EU text - has “never happened before”.

“I guess this means it’s now a statement of 27 EU heads of state or government instead of 28 and we will have to add the footnote”, he said.

“But it’s not a legally binding document anyway, so it doesn’t become invalid in that sense”.

Fellow traveller?

Tsipras had earlier attracted comment for meeting with the Russian ambassador to Greece on Monday, a few hours after being named PM.

The Russian diplomat hand-delivered a telegram from president Vladimir Putin, saying Putin “is confident that Russia and Greece will continue to develop their traditionally constructive co-operation”.

It is part of normal protocol, with China following suit on Tuesday.

But the EU bombshell and the Russian meeting come in the context of Tsipras’ pro-Russia track record.

He visited Moscow last May to meet with Russian MPs and Putin associates.

He voiced support, at the time, for Crimea’s “referendum” on independence. He said the EU “is shooting itself in the foot” by imposing sanctions and complained that the pro-EU government in Kiev contains “neo-Nazis”.

His MEPs have voted against almost every Russia-critical act or resolution in the European Parliament.

The list includes EP ratification of the EU-Ukraine association pact, criticism of Russia’s crackdown on Memorial (an NGO), and criticism of the annexation of Crimea.

EU ministers to expand Russia blacklist

EU foreign ministers are keen to add names to the Russia blacklist and to launch counter-propaganda measures, according to draft conclusions seen by EUobserver.


Who's next on the EU's Russia blacklist?

The EU’s next round of Russia sanctions is to be limited to blacklisting more names, with diplomats and kremlinologists helping EUobserver to identify potential targets.

EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'

EU leaders demanded a permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium - and ruled out any bilateral trade talks within the 1 May deadline set by Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica