Thursday, August 30, 2012

German politicians point to rising Russian influence and other geopolitical risks associated with Grexit

As German politicians debate the issue of Greek exit from the Eurozone, Merkel's supporters are raising geopolitical concerns. Greek geographical proximity to the Middle East, destabilization in the whole of southern Europe, and Russia's potential involvement - could all be used to garner support for Merkel's policy of avoiding Grexit.
Reuters: - ... Michael Meister, vice-chairman of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in the Bundestag lower house, said on Monday such a development could further destabilize the already troubled eastern Mediterranean region.

"I believe we have to open up the debate beyond the purely financial and economic dimensions," he said.

"Just look at the map and see where Greece is located," Meister added, noting its proximity to the Middle East, now racked by civil war in Syria, and to still-fragile parts of the Balkans.

His comments echoed those of another prominent CDU politician, Armin Laschet, who told Reuters at the weekend that a Greek exit could trigger undesirable upheaval in southern Europe.

"(An exit) could lead to instability in a NATO member state. Russia is standing ready with billions to help Greece in such a scenario," Laschet said. "Much more is at stake here than just the question of whether Greece meets the criteria (of its bailout)."
Certainly the Russian influence in Greece is increasing. Travel agencies are reporting a rise in the number of Russian tourists in Athens for example. Russia has already offered  €25bn to support the Greek government. And now with some €90bn having left Greece, the Russians are viewing it as their opportunity. It's not clear if this should be considered a major geopolitical concern, but it certainly points to EU's declining influence in Greece and potentially elsewhere in southern Europe.
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