ROME (Reuters) - Any risk of Greece moving toward a closer alliance with Russia at the expense of its relations with Europe appears to have lessened after this week’s meetings with EU leaders in Brussels, Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Friday.
“After yesterday’s political accord, which I hope will be consolidated on Monday, the risk of a Greece outside Europe and in the orbit of Russia is moving further away,” Padoan said on news radio station Radio 24.
The comments follow concern in many European Union capitals that Greece may turn to Russia for financial support in case of a breakdown in negotiations over new funding arrangements with the EU and International Monetary Fund.
Following meetings between euro zone finance ministers and heads of government on Wednesday and Thursday, the finance ministers are due to meet again on Monday to try to thrash out a new funding arrangement.
Padoan also said that the government’s recent reform of the cooperative banks known as Popolari in Italy was aimed at consolidation within the sector and that the idea that it wanted to favor foreign banks at the expense of local lenders was a “caricature”.
Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri and James Mackenzie