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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 2:16 AM

Clash Over Sanctions: Syriza Opposes Sanctions on Russia, Calls Them "Neocolonial Bulimia"; Negotiation Rules

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The Blowout Victory of Syriza has taken on some new meaning outside of Grexit possibilities.

Please consider Greeks Rebuff EU Call for More Russia Sanctions.

A spokesman for the ruling coalition of Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, said Greece had not approved a statement from EU heads of government that asked their foreign ministers to review further sanctions in response to the latest flare-up of violence in eastern Ukraine, blamed by the US and most European nations on Russian-backed separatists.

The Greek statement raised questions over whether the new government, led by the radical leftist Syriza party, would support a continuation of existing EU sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials and Moscow-supported separatists, when they come up for renewal in March.

German chancellor Angela Merkel warned last month that Moscow was trying to make some Balkan states “politically and economically dependent”.

[Mish comment: But hey - political and economic dependence on Germany and the Troika is of course perfectly acceptable]

Nikolai Fyodorov, Russia’s agriculture minister, suggested on January 16 that, if Greece’s debt woes forced it to leave the EU, the Kremlin would help Athens by lifting a ban on Greek food exports that forms part of the measures adopted by Moscow in retaliation for western sanctions.

Syriza has already given a taste of its foreign policy outlook in the European Parliament, where, since last May’s elections, its MEPs have adopted a number of pro-Russian positions, including voting against a EU-Ukrainian association agreement.

Costas Isychos, a Syriza foreign affairs spokesman, last year derided western sanctions on Russia as “neocolonial bulimia” and praised the military efforts of the Kremlin-backed separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Syriza’s 2013 party manifesto demanded Greece’s exit from Nato and the closure of a US navy base on the island of Crete.

Though a Nato member, Greece in modern times has often enjoyed warm relations with Russia, and the Soviet Union before it, no matter what the political complexion of the government in Athens. The two countries are culturally close, with a shared Orthodox religion, and leftwing Greeks in the cold war used to have an anti-US, anti-imperialist outlook very close to the views of Moscow.
"Neocolonial Bulimia"

That's a good term. It applies to the Troika as well. The IMF is not out to save Greece, it's out to loot Greece for the benefit of external bondholders.

Greece's Coming Clash in Europe Starts With Russia Sanctions

Bloomberg reports Greece's Coming Clash in Europe Starts With Russia Sanctions.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza-led coalition said it opposed a European Union statement issued in Brussels Tuesday paving the way to additional curbs on the Kremlin over the conflict in Ukraine, and complained it hadn’t been consulted.

“Greece doesn’t consent,” the government said in a statement. It added that the announcement violated “proper procedure” by not first securing Greece’s agreement.

Greece’s new foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, has the opportunity to block further sanctions at an EU meeting in Brussels on Thursday. 

Sanctions require unanimity among the 28 governments. A Greek veto would shatter the fragile European consensus over dealing with Russia, potentially robbing Syriza of early goodwill as it lobbies for easier terms for Greece’s bailout.

“Anyone who thinks that in the name of the debt, Greece will resign its sovereignty and its active counsel in European politics is mistaken,” Kotzias said at the ceremony to take over the Foreign Ministry. “We want to be Greeks, patriots, Europeanists, internationalists.” 

The new government also includes Yanis Varoufakis, an economist who has called Greece’s bailout agreement a destructive “trap,” as finance minister. He advocates defaulting on the country’s debt while remaining in the euro.

“Tsipras’s initial decisions, especially his coalition with a nationalist-hooligan party, point toward an exit from the euro,” Luis Garicano, an economics professor at the London School of Economics, said on Twitter. “If he wanted to negotiate, he’d have teamed up with To Potami, he wouldn’t have opposed sanctions against Russia.”
Negotiation Rules

The position of Economics professor Luis Garicano is laughable.

In regards to EU sanctions, 1 vote out of 28 can kill the deal. That's a lot of leverage, especially when 27 on the other side want something from you. What are they willing to offer in return?

In contrast, when it comes to bailouts, Greece is outvoted by a huge margin, perhaps 18-1 within the Eurozone block. In this case, Greece desperately wants something from the other 18 instead of the other 27 wanting something from Greece.
The only way to negotiate when it's 18-1 against you (and you are the one who needs something) is to have some leverage. If Syriza teamed up with To Potami and agreed to sanctions, Tsipras may as well put all his cards on the table saying "here, take the ones you like".

Brick in the Face

The way to get things serious in a hurry is to figuratively hit the Brussels nannycrats smack in the face with a brick. Letting Brussels know you will kill sanctions if you do not get what you want would do just that.

Of course, sanctions are pure idiocy in the first place. So hitting the nannycrats with a brick in the face is precisely what needs to happen. That brick will set the tone for better negotiations on other matters as well.

This is likely to get very interesting in a hurry.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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