EU must stop ‘spasmodic’ moves on Russia: minister

Nikos Kotzias warns that the EU risks further destabilizing the region with its actions

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The European Union must halt “spasmodic” action against Russia, the new Greek foreign minister said Sunday, adding that Greece could not be ignored in EU affairs simply because it owes money.

“The EU must finally consider what it wants to do with Russia on a long-term basis ... instead of reacting in a morally direct, correct, but spasmodic fashion,” Nikos Kotzias told the semi-state Athens News Agency.

Upon coming to power last week, the hard-left Greek government refused to approve an EU statement threatening new sanctions against Russia, following deadly fighting in the key port city of Mariupol between Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed rebels.

A more conciliatory EU statement was eventually adopted at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

Kotzias has been invited by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Russia and Ukraine.

“Greece cannot sever its historic ties to Russia, but it can play a role to mediate and develop negotiations between” Russia and Ukraine, said Kotzias, who was a senior member of the Greek Communist party until 1989.

He warned that the EU risked further “destabilizing” the region with its actions.

“This destabilization will cross the Russian-Ukrainian border, reach the Middle East and cross into North Africa, a sort of sickle through which tens of thousands of refugees, jihadists, diseases and all sorts of dangers will emerge,” he said.

Kotzias stressed, meanwhile, that Greece should not be treated as a “pariah state” because of its debts.

“At the last European council [of foreign ministers], my colleagues understood that they cannot behave toward Greece as if it were a pariah state because it owes money,” he said.

“Owing money is one thing, and abandoning one’s rights in the EU is quite another,” he said.

A professor of political theory at Piraeus University who has also taught at Harvard, Oxford and Magdeburg, Kotzias has authored books titled “Greece, a Debt Colony” and “A Policy of Salvation Against the Troika” – the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank trio of creditors that plied severe austerity measures on Athens.

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