The new far-left government in Greece dropped a bombshell on its first day in office by abjuring an EU statement on Russia, Belgian online magazine EUobserver reports. The situation – a retroactive abjuration of an EU line – has never happened before.
It said in a press communique on Tuesday (27 January): “the aforementioned statement was released without the prescribed procedure to obtain consent by the member states and particularly without ensuring the consent of Greece”.
“In this context, it is underlined that Greece does not consent to this statement”.
It added that its new PM, Alexis Tsipras, expressed “discontent” in a phone call to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini.
The EU statement on Russia, published on Tuesday morning, claimed all 28 leaders had agreed Russia bears “responsibility” for a rocket attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which killed 30 people. It also called on foreign ministers to “consider any appropriate action” – further sanctions on Russia. The statement was drafted by the cabinet of EU Council chief Donald Tusk, a Russia-critical Pole, on Monday evening. His people say no one on the Greek side voiced objections until Tuesday morning.
They then suggested adding a footnote to the statement, but “as Greece did not want such a footnote, it was clear to us that we could publish the statement as agreed in the evening”.
For its part, the Greek embassy to the EU is playing down the fiasco as confusion linked to the hand-over of power in Athens.
“I guess this means it’s now a statement of 27 EU heads of state or government instead of 28 and we will have to add the footnote”, he said. “But it’s not a legally binding document anyway, so it doesn’t become invalid in that sense,” a EU diplomat told EUobserver.