Outcome Of Greek Referendum Vote Will Have Economic And Security Consequences

Voters in Greece today to cast their ballots in a hastily-arranged referendum to decide whether to accept the demands of the country’s lenders. While the economic consequences are important, so too are the larger ramifications of Europe’s relationship with Greece.

Regardless of the outcome of referendum, it is certain to influence how European Union leaders handle the burgeoning migrant crisis, unrest in Ukraine and growing concerns over radical Islamic terrorism.

“We are surrounded by a triangle of crisis and destabilization,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told The Washington Post.

The trifecta of problems – Greek default, the migrant crisis and the crisis in Ukraine – could be handled individually by European governmental organizations, but the question of whether they could handle all at once is another matter.

“The current focus on the downpour in Greece is understandable. But policymakers should not be so distracted by it that they fail to prepare for the other two possible storms – and, much more worrisome, the possibility that they merge into a single more devastating one. Europe’s leaders must act now to minimize the risks, lest they find their shelters inadequate to the extreme weather that could lie ahead, writes Mohamed El-Erian, the head of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council, writes in a Project Syndicate column.

Europe and the growing frustration among European Union leaders with Greece’s inability (and refusal) to deal with its fiscal problems presents an opportunity for Russia to step into the fray.

Russia is pushing its Turkish Stream Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that it has proposed that would run from Russia through Turkey and link up in Greece. From there, Russian gas would travel on to the rest of Europe. Russia is vying against a separate pipeline project that would send natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Turkey and on to Europe.

In June, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras travelled to Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin during the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Following their discussions, it was announced that the two nations signed a memorandum that cemented Russia’s financing of an extention to the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, which carries gas to Europe through Greek territory, reported The Moscow Times.

“Analysts in both Moscow and Athens say the flirtation is more show than substance. But NATO had sufficiently strong concerns about the loyalties of the new Greek government that top officials talked about how to keep sensitive discussions out of Russian hands shortly after Syriza’s January victory, a senior NATO official said at the time,” reports CTNow.



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