23:49 GMT30 March 2020
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    Greek Deputy Defense Minister Kostas Isychos said that upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is an historical opportunity for Greece to deepen cooperation with Russia and other BRICS countries.

    ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) The upcoming St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is an historical opportunity for Greece to deepen cooperation with Russia and other BRICS countries, Greek Deputy Defense Minister Kostas Isychos told Sputnik.

    "The Greek party which will be visiting St. Petersburg, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, considers this to be an excellent opportunity – I would even say, historical opportunity. It opens a window for Greece in a region, in an area where we do have traditional relationships – historical, religious, economic, and so on," Isychos, a co-chairman of the Russian-Greek interstate commission, said.

    Isychos stated that his country feels that it has not fully explored "the depths and the lengths" of its relations with Russia and suggests improving its cooperation with BRICS countries in the Euro-Asia region, particularly in energy-related issues.

    Greece plans to explore the possibility of becoming a member of the BRICS New Development Bank, seeing it as a potential alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kostas Isychos said.

    "I think that the BRICS Development Bank seems to be an alternative [to IMF]," Isychos, a co-chairman of the Russian-Greek interstate commission, said, adding that there is "the monopoly of the IMF and it’s not only a monopoly that has led to sometimes tragedies and catastrophes of thousands of people over the last decades."

    Isychos added that there should be "a counterbalance of a bank which will not be a copy paste of the IMF or another version, but what we need is a development bank for mutual interest and multilateral interest for all people and relevant countries."

    Greece is interested in becoming one of BRICS Bank members, the official said.

    "Of course, we don’t have anything in hand yet, it’s very early to say, it’s in the stage of formation and we don’t have any practical ways to analyze the BRICS development bank, but in theory there are opportunities for us to gain," Isychos told Sputnik.

    The June 18-20 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is an opportunity for Greece, as well as other countries, to move ahead with BRICS bank talks, he added.

    The BRICS New Development Bank, created in mid-2014 by an agreement between Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, aims to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries, emerging economies and developing countries.

    The bank, conceived as an alternative to Western global financial institutions, established a $100-billion currency reserve to ensure financial stability.

    Greece does not intend to default and media claims of the opposite are simply aimed at aggravating the country’s talks with the lenders, Greek Deputy Defense Minister said.

    "Of course, the mainstream media tries to push this type of media impact on peoples and nations in order to create a negative atmosphere for Greece in the negotiations that are going on," Isychos, who is also a co-chairman of the Russian-Greek interstate commission, said, stressing that "it is not our intention to go into default."

    Greece is nonetheless at a "difficult and a strenuous point of negotiations" with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lenders and could start looking for new sources of financial aid, the deputy minister added.

    Greece is among countries hit hardest by the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Greece's overall debt is currently estimated to be around $350 billion of which $270 billion is owed to its three biggest lenders, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB).

    Early in June, Athens postponed repaying $350 million to the IMF, pledging instead to bundle that missed payment into a single $1.8-billion payment by the end of the month.

    On Tuesday, German tabloid Bild reported, citing an unnamed source in the Greek government, that Athens is considering a six-month delay for a $1.8-billion debt payment to the IMF.

    Athens and its three main lenders have been unable to compromise on a deal that requires financial reform by the Greek government and the implementation of unpopular austerity measures in exchange for the scheduled bailout tranche it needs to avert default.

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    cooperation, BRICS, Russia, Greece
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