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New Greek premier repudiates EU line on Russia sanctions

January 27, 2015

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s new prime minister has lashed out against the European Union even before his new radical left government was sworn in.

Alexis Tsipras’ office said Greece has expressed displeasure over Tuesday’s joint declaration by EU leaders threatening fresh sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

In a statement released just before his government was sworn in, Tsipras’ office said Greece had not been consulted on the declaration, and didn’t consent to its content.

The rare joint declaration was triggered by Moscow’s perceived “growing support” for separatists in eastern Ukraine during intensified fighting over the past days.

The EU has imposed economic and political sanctions on Moscow and officials linked with last year’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula.

New Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Greece is involved in “tough negotiations” over the possibility of fresh sanctions on Russia. He said some countries had “breached the EU rules, and tried to present us with a fait accompli before the new government had even been sworn in.”

“This ... will not be accepted,” Kotzias said, during a ministry handover ceremony with outgoing foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos. “Whoever thinks that, in the name of its debt, Greek will give up its sovereignty and its active contribution to European policies is mistaken.”

Tsipras took office Monday, a day after his election victory on an anti-austerity platform.

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