Russian-Greek Economic Relations in the Second Decade of the 21st Century

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-101-111
Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, 32-, Leninskii Prosp., Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Abstract. For both Russia and Greece, the 2010s were an uneasy and transformative period, which inevitably had an impact on bilateral relations. The financial and economic crisis in Greece forced the government to look for new points of growth in the country’s economy, and “rebooting” the Greek-Russian relations was seen as one of such opportunities. But the membership in the EU and NATO, as well as conditions set by the “troika” of creditors – the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF – prevented Athens from pursuing closer ties with Moscow. In the 2010s, bilateral cooperation in military-industrial areas was reduced significantly, which also changed the course of the Greek-Turkish relations. Certain promising projects in the energy industry, such as the Burgas–Alexandroupoli pipeline or the “South Stream”, failed to materialize, even though they could have made Greece an important energy center for the Southern Europe. Mutual investment between the two countries was insufficient as well. Despite that, the developments in Greek tourism industry opened new possibilities for cooperation, especially since a significant part of it was specifically targeting the Russian market (among other developments, the visa application process for Russian citizens was simplified, and the number of regular flights between the countries was expanded). Greek-Russian trade also suffered several setbacks in the last decade. The decline in bilateral trade caused by the international financial crisis and the debt crisis in Greece was mostly dealt with by 2013. But soon afterwards, the relations between Russia and the West took a sudden and significant downturn, followed by anti-Russian sanctions and, as a response to them, the food embargo, which hit the Greek economy hard. Since the first sanctions were implemented, and until today, Athens has promoted the idea of inefficiency of the sanctions, and has actively supported ending them. A certain growth in Greek-Russian economic relations could have been anticipated after the formation of A. Tsipras government. The Prime Minister himself has tried several times to use his government’s closer ties to Moscow as a bargaining chip in building relations with the EU and the “troika”. In time, though, the hopes that Moscow can provide assistance which will allow Greece to escape the bonds of the Memoranda, waned, and the trade between the two countries experienced no additional development impulses due to the current international climate. So, the last decade can be seen as an “ice age” in Greek-Russian economic relations, mostly due to external factors, and no significant points of growth for bilateral relations exist at the moment.

Keywords: Russian-Greek relations, financial and economic crisis, “troika”, anti-Russian sanctions, food embargo, Burgas–Alexandroupoli pipeline, “South Stream”, tourism, A. Tsipras


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For citation:
Aleksandrova A. Russian-Greek Economic Relations in the Second Decade of the 21st Century. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 8, pp. 101-111.

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