Thursday, February 16, 2017

Flipping Greece?

Greece has been out of the financial and political headlines lately, it seems. But we could have a NATO problem because Greece could yet head for the EU exits because of their continuing financial problems:

The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday that Greece once again risks a eurozone exit amid stalled bailout talks, sending the clearest signal yet the emergency lender isn't likely to soon rejoin Europe's failed efforts to fix the debt-wary nation.

Might Russia or China seek to pry Greece away from NATO via an EU exit?

Russia would love to improve their situation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans--with the bonus of sticking it to NATO.

China could use a firm anchor in Europe at the end of their New Silk Road project to develop land and sea trade routes to Europe.

For Greece, cash would be nice as well as support against their rival and near-enemy Turkey. Would Russia with its revived friendship with Turkey be the best source?

Hard to say. It depends on whether a common religion, Eastern Orthodox (of a different branch, of course), can overcome the recent Russian-Turkish flirtation based on Syria.

Or would China as the distant power (with more money) be preferred by Athens?

Or will Greece stand with the West to uphold their status of mother of Western democracy?

UPDATE: Four NATO countries--Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, and Turkey--think Russia would be a better ally to defend them. Huh?

Russia doesn't defend allies. Russia controls vassals. But this poll is an easy way to signal anger at America, secure in the knowledge that Russian troops won't be "protecting" them.

After 8 years of America not standing up for allies with the same enthusiasm we reach out to enemies, I'm surprised the numbers aren't worse for us.

What about the 4 in question?

Turkey is lurching to authoritarianism where Russia already is, and America didn't share Turkey's objectives in Syria. So Turkey is more open to Russia for now.

Slovenia always seemed western, but I guess past time in Yugoslavia had an impact. The Bulgarians have a long history of being under Soviet or Russian dominance. Still, these are surprising.

Greece is interesting in light of Greece's financial problems and fear of Turkey. Greece oddly gets kudos for meeting the NATO standard of at least 2% of GDP going to defense. But Greece spends out of fear of Turkey not out of NATO solidarity. And Greece shares the Orthodox religion with Russia. Might Greece flip to Russian alliance based on religion, money, and a conviction that Russia now friendly with Turkey could deter Turkish military threats more effectively? The way Russia is making a play for the eastern Mediterranean Sea--with a recent additional play for eastern Libya--Greece would be a solid addition to the perimeter.

UPDATE: Greece continues to be vulnerable to an offer that resets their finances:

The global financial crisis and its fallout forced four euro zone countries to turn to international lenders. Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus all went through rescues and are back out, their economies growing again. But Greece, the first into a bailout in 2010, has needed three.

Rescue funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund saved Greece from bankruptcy, but the austerity and reform policies the lenders attached as conditions have helped to turn recession into a depression.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose leftist-led government is lagging in opinion polls, has tried to make the plight of Greeks a rallying cry in the latest round of drawn-out negotiations with the lenders blocking the release of more aid.

The EU and the West has so far failed to help Greece help itself enough.

Will the Greeks tire of trying to help themselves and look for a Golden parachute from Russia (with Iranian financial help?) or--perhaps far more likely--China?