Comment by Roger Annis, Jan 31, 2015
The New York Times has a triumphalist article yesterday on the stance of the new government in Greece towards sanctions on Russia. It’s titled, ‘Greece steps back into line with European Union policy on Russia sanctions’. Leaving aside the inaccuracy of the headline, it does express very well the paternalist attitude to the Syriza-led government that the U.S. government intends to apply.
Notwithstanding the headline, the article manages to demonstrate very vividly WHAT A VERY LARGE HEADACHE for NATO war plans in eastern Europe is the outcome of the election in Greece.
The New York Times is wrong in its triumphalist interpretation of the meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 29. Here is what the newspaper reports:
In the end, however, Greece backed away from strong statements denouncing sanctions and joined other countries in the 28-member bloc in a unanimous vote in favor of expanding a list of sanctioned individuals, mostly Russians, and of work to prepare “any further action” to pressure combatants to respect a stillborn truce agreement from last year.
Greece also joined other countries in endorsing a six-month extension of sanctions imposed last March that would otherwise have soon expired.
That’s it. Quite modest. The Times headline writer got caught up in fantasy. Surprise. No one should believe anything contentious the NYT publishes on Ukraine and Russia unless it can be verified by other sources. Read the extensive writings of Robert Parry about the Times coverage of the Ukraine war in order to fully understand this maxim. The EU meeting extended already-agreed sanctions against travel and access to finance of leading Russian capitalists. Nothing new was decided, nor could it be because the new Greek government has signaled that it will not be a hand-raiser at the EU on the issue of relations with Russia.
There are two key EU meetings next month to watch–another meeting of the foreign ministers, on Feb 9, and a meeting (not summit) of heads of government on Feb 12.
We should not expect or demand that the new Greek government bear sole responsibility to wage the battle over EU-Russia relations. The government has a great deal of priorities to deal with and important as it is, EU policy towards Russia is not a first priority. Meanwhile, where are the protest movements in the streets of Europe demanding that sanctions against Russia be stopped? Sanctions are preludes to war. Is Europe concerned about existing or threatened war in its eastern regions? Is the Syriza government supposed to make up for all the lacunes of the European left during the past year? That’s hardly fair, and not particular useful as analysis.
Regarding Greece and its membership in NATO, I understand that Syriza’s basic party platform has a specific plank in it calling for Greece’s withdrawal from the imperialist alliance.