Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is preparing for his two-day visit to Moscow, which begins on Wednesday and is essentially his first foreign policy challenge, especially after the noise generated by Greece’s allies and partners following the announcement of the trip.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he hopes for “spring” in relations between Greece and Russia, which he his due to visit on April 8, rather than the “Siberian winter” that currently exists between Moscow and the European Union.
Foreign policy, rather than bailout terms or debt relief, is emerging as the first potential point of conflict between Greece and the European Union after the SYRIZA-led government indicated displeasure over calls for further sanctions against Russia due to fighting in eastern Ukraine.
After spending the first few days of this briefest of elections campaigns focussing on SYRIZA’s possible threat to Greece’s position in the euro, New Democracy now appears to be broadening the agenda of issues it is using to try to eat away at the leftists party’s lead.
Friday marks the beginning of a tricky three days for Greece and the government in particular, with diplomatic talks, street protests and the voting of the budget all on the agenda.
The almost daily headcount of Greek MPs ahead of February's presidential elections is continuing to give a conflicting picture about how events may play out early next year.
Seeing the government close to buckling under the pressure of having to meet the troika's targets, SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras chose to inflict his own kind of pain on Wednesday, when he claimed that a leftist government would not be bound by the demands made by Greece's lenders.
With all the focus falling on its economic policies, little attention has been paid to where SYRIZA stands on defence and foreign policy. With Greece potentially just a few months away from early elections and a change of government, there are few questions being asked about the leftist party’s ability to handle such sensitive policy areas.
The European Union’s deteriorating relationship with Russia has placed the Greek government in an increasingly difficult position and opened it up to criticism from SYRIZA.
A multi-bill of reforms that took the government some time to pull together was passed through Parliament with relatively little fuss on Wednesday but the government may face more serious consequences when some of the law’s provisions start to take effect.