Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Spain criticises Greece on Russia

  • The Spanish FM (c) also spoke well of Russia on his own visit to Moscow (Photo: PresidenciaGVA)

Spain has criticised Greece over Russia sanctions as the EU moves toward renewing economic restrictions.

The Spanish foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said in Barcelona on Thursday (9 April) that the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, was wrong to speak out against EU measures whe he visited Moscow earlier this week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I can't share the opinion of the Greek prime minister”, he said.

"The key condition to lift the sanctions is that Russia respects international law. Respecting international law means respecting the Minsk [ceasefire] accords, stopping intervention to help the separatists in Donbas and giving up the Crimean peninsula [which Russia annexed from Ukraine]”, he added.

"Once international law is re-established, the time will come to look for a formula to end this state of latent tension between Russia and the European Union”.

Tsipras in Moscow on Wednesday (8 April) had denounced "the vicious circle" of EU sanctions and Russia counter-sanctions.

But he also linked lifting the EU measures to Minsk compliance.

Garcia-Margallo’s remarks come after his own visit to the Russian capital in March.

He said at the time the EU sanctions “are beneficial for no one” and claimed the Minsk accord was being “observed” despite Nato reports to the contrary.

His more hawkish line on Thursday comes after EU leaders at a summit later agreed to extend Russia economic measures for six months, but to take the legal step closer to their expiration date in July.

For his part, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov, who met his Belgian counterpart, Didier Reynders, in Moscow, also on Thursday, said that “most” EU states oppose the extension.

“We know most EU countries aren't happy with the present situation … unfortunately, an aggressive minority there tries to speculate on the so-called principle of solidarity”, he added.

Reynders, who was in Russia in his capacity as temporary chairman of a Council of Europe cell, didn't comment on sanctions, but did promote Belgium-Russia trade.

The list of public Russia sanctions critics is includes Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and some individuals, such as the Czech president.

Useful idiots

EU sensitivities were on display elsewhere on Thursday when Greece reacted to purported comments by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

The Times, a British daily, reported that Ilves had called Tsipras a “useful idiot” - a Cold War term for Western, left-wing Communist sympathisers.

The report saw Greece summon the Estonian ambassador to Athens for a formal complaint.

“Such characterisations are incompatible with European political culture and the level of relations and contacts between two allies and partners such as Greece and Estonia”, the Greek foreign ministry said.

Ilves denies having used the phrase of Tsipras, however.

The Times journalist who did the interview, Roger Boyes, told Estonian media that Ilves used the term in general remarks on Russia sympathisers, with no direct reference to Tsipras.

Lithuania bans Russian TV station

Lithuania’s media watchdog has blocked broadcasts by Russian TV channel RTR Planeta on grounds of inciting hatred over Ukraine.

Russia 'pouring' arms into Ukraine

Two days after EU leaders tied Russia sanctions to respect of a ceasefire pact, Nato and the US said Russia is “pouring” arms into Ukraine.

EU wants continental free-trade deal with Africa

Earlier this week, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union announced a new relationship with Africa. On Friday, his subordinates outlined the vision, promising jobs and growth by leveraging public funds for investments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us