Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, frustrated in efforts to obtain a financial lifeline from the European Union, said here Friday that Athens could seek partners outside the 28-member bloc for partners.
"We are now in the middle of a great storm. But we are a seafaring nation that knows how to navigate through storms and is not afraid of heading to new seas and reaching new harbors," he said in a speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Tsipras, whose Syriza government is facing the threat of running out of money it agrees to continue with the austerity regime the leftist party took office vowing to dismantle, insisted that "the so-called problem of Greece is the problem of the whole European Union."
The EU "should go back to its initial principals of solidarity and social justice," he said.
The "belt-tightening" policies imposed by Berlin and Brussels are "leading us nowhere," the Greek premier said.
Athens is under pressure to accept the latest proposal from the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund as a condition for receiving funds to meet obligations to the IMF and other creditors.
"Many are asking themselves the question, why am I here? Why am I not in Brussels?," Tsipras said during his second visit to Russia in less than three months. The answer, he said, is that Greece wants to pursue a "multivector" foreign policy.
For many years, according to Tsipras, Greeks and other Europeans mistakenly "believed we were the center of the world."
"However, the economic center of the planet has shifted. There are emerging forces playing a more important role, politically and economically," he added.
Following their respective speeches at the forum, Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for 90 minutes, agreeing to prepare a bilateral memorandum of cooperation as a basis for future endeavors.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said later that Greece has not requested any financial aid from Russia.
Even so, Tsipras leaves St. Petersburg with an agreement on a Moscow-Athens joint venture to extend to Greece the Turkish Stream pipeline, which currently carries Russian national gas as far as western Turkey.