It looks like not all European governments signed off on yesterday’s joint statement encouraging new sanctions on Russia. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Greece’s new government, though, jumped into an early diplomatic spat with Brussels over the statement, which it said it hadn’t approved. The statement “was circulated without having followed the correct procedure for ensuring the consent of member states and, in particular, without ensuring Greece’s consent,” said Dimitrios Tzanakopolous, a senior aide to new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.The disagreement suggests the election victory of Mr. Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party on Sunday could deepen divides within the bloc over how hard to press the Kremlin. […]Greece can’t be ignored if it chooses to oppose further EU sanctions against Russia, since any penalties require a unanimous decision from all 28 governments. However, in the give and take of EU politics, the government of a small country is usually required to give ground in many other areas to achieve its priorities.
Is this Tsipras setting himself up for a better negotiating position on austerity (“I’ll let you sanction Russia if you forgive our debts”) or a sign of things to come? Definitely a trend to watch, especially as Syriza-sympathetic parties start seriously contesting other European elections.