Putin: Where was EU when Greek crisis was evolving?
The European Commission should have adjusted the economic activity of Greece before the crisis, Russian President Putin has said, adding that the EU shouldn’t have issued such high bonuses and loans to the debt ridden country.
“Of course, all the blame can be shifted to the Greeks. But if there were violations in their [Greece] activity, where was the European Commission? Why didn’t it make any adjustments to the economic activity of the previous government of Greece?” Putin asked talking at the Q&A session with journalists on the final day of BRICS/SCO summits in Ufa.
The President’s comment comes as Greece’s new deadline to reach an agreement with its troika of creditors – the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission – expires this weekend. On Thursday Greece presented its new reform plan that, critics say, mirrors the bailout deal that the Greeks rejected at the referendum held Sunday.
He also wondered why the EC issued “such bonuses and loans” to Athens and why it “allowed [Athens] to hold such a low profile on taxes.”
“Where were you then? There is much to discuss, and the Greek government certainly has much to argue about."
According to the Russian leader, when one powerful currency is circulating in the countries with different economic levels, these countries won’t be able to control their finances and economic policy.
The problems of Greece don’t directly affect Russia, but they indirectly influence the whole of Europe, including Russia, due to the large volume of trade between the EU and Moscow, says Putin.
He repeated that Russia is able to provide financial help for any foreign state, but Athens hasn’t asked for it.
“Greece is a member of the EU and …conducts complicated negotiation process with its partners. Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras didn’t ask us for any help. And in general, it’s understandable because the numbers [of the Greece debt to the troika of its international creditors] are high.”
Moscow has repeatedly said it was ready to help Greece, if necessary, but so far Athens hasn’t asked for direct financial help.
While Russia hasn’t transferred money to Greece directly, a €2 billion gas deal signed at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in June should help Greece overcome its debt crisis, Putin acknowledged then.
Russia and Greece signed a deal to create a joint enterprise for the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline across Greece. The pipeline will have a capacity of 47 billion cubic meters a year and the construction costs are about €2 billion.
In December 2014, Russia cancelled the South Stream gas pipeline project because the EU was constantly blocking the deal. South Stream would have delivered 63 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, bypassing the current routes through unreliable Ukraine.
The total Greek debt now stands at €316 billion. After failing to repay €1.6 billion ($1.76 billion) to the IMF by the July 1 deadline, Greece became the first developed country to default on its international obligations.
On Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras submitted new proposals to the creditors following a request for a three-year loan. Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the eurozone would discuss a response to the plans on Saturday while Germany warned there was little room for easing Greece's debt burden. The Greek Parliament is set to vote on whether it will stay in the euro or leave on July 10 -11.