km. It has long been known that the governments of the 28 EU countries disagree when it comes to Russia. The statement of Germany's special coordinator for Russia policy, Gernot Erler, in an interview with ARD “Morgenmagazin” of 28 January that the unity regarding Russia had been the EU’s only strength so far, is therefore more suggestion than reality. Obviously, the EU leaders pretend unanimity, although there is none.
On 27 January he website euobserver.com reported for example that in a press statement the Greek government had complained that the EU explanation for a missile attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on 27 January issued by the EU Council President Donald Tusk as well as the decision on new sanctions against Russia “was published without the mandatory procedure to obtain the consensus of all member states and in particular without securing the consent of Greece”. The Greek press statement added: “In this context it is to be noted that Greece does not agree to this statement.” The press release furthermore states that the new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had informed Frederica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a telephone interview before publication that he could not approve the proposed EU statement in this form.
Nevertheless, the EU statement published on Tuesday morning of 27 January claimed that all 28 Heads of State and Government of the EU had agreed to this statement which blamed the responsibility for the rocket fire in Mariupol on Russia and called on the EU foreign ministers to consider additional sanctions at their meeting which was to take place two days later.
The former Polish Prime Minister and current EU Council President Donald Tusk, who is hostile to Russia, had drafted the statement on Monday night. Staff of the Council President reported that they had intended to take the Greek concerns into account in a footnote, but that the Greek side had objected to that. Therefore the statement was published as it had been devised. Although the process was downplayed in retrospect by the Greek EU representation, another EU diplomat once again confirmed that Greece did not agree to accuse Russia of the rocket fire in Mariupol. This EU official added that even Austria, Hungary and Slovakia had tried to mitigate the EU statement – also in vain.
On 30 January, the “International New York Times,” reported that Greece would now follow the new sanctions against Russia. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers, the new Greek incumbent had agreed – to calm “worries that the election of a far-left government in Greece hostile to sanctions could finish with Europe’s policy towards Moscow”.
At the end of the article on the front page of the US newspaper the Foreign Minister of Lithuania is quoted. He said that the Greeks had been “forced to change their obstinate position”. Next follows a quotation of the EU Foreign Representative Mogherini, according to which the Greek attitude “was extremely constructive”. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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