ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with the euro zone, it could always look elsewhere for help.
“What we want is a deal. But if there is no deal - hopefully (there will be) - and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow apart Europe, then we have the obligation to go to Plan B. Plan B is to get funding from another source,” he told a Greek television show that ran into early Tuesday. “It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries,” he said.
Kammenos is the leader of Independent Greeks, a nationalist anti-bailout party that is the junior coalition partner of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party.
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis, who holds the European Affairs portfolio, told Greek radio that Russia and China had offered Greece economic support though Athens had not requested it.
“There have been proposals, offers I would say, from Russia, recently after the election, for economic support as well as from China, regarding help, investment possibilities,” Chountis said, asked to comment on Kammenos’s remarks, adding: “We have not asked for it.”
Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is due to visit Russia on Wednesday.
Chountis said that while Athens was not excluding alternative sources of aid, it’s first priority was to “exhaust all options” in reaching a deal with its European partners.
Greece is seeking a new debt agreement with the euro zone that will allow it to shake off much of the austerity that has been imposed by a European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout since 2010.
The euro zone, particularly Germany, has shown no willingness to ease its requirement that Greece make deep budget cuts and economic reforms.
“Our primary plan is to find a solution with our European partners because we are aware of the commitments and obligations that our presence is Europe and the euro zone entails,” Chountis said.
Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; and Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Robin Pomeroy