Russia, China Offer Greece Membership In BRICS Infrastructure Bank

Russia, China Offer Greece Membership In BRICS Infrastructure Bank

In a largely symbolic and propaganda driven move, the new BRICS bank has extended an invitation to Greece, according to unofficial government sources.

Just what the insolvent country would bring to the bank remains unclear.

The development bank of the BRICS economies includes Russia and China, which is seeking to become a counterweight to the IMF.

The invitation allegedly came during a telephone call between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russia's deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak.

The timing is interesting and could be an attempt by the Greeks to gain leverage with the EU. Greece was meeting with the EU in Brussels on the day of the call, in efforts to reach a deal with its EU-IMF creditors to release the $8 billion remaining in its bailout program. The availability of those funds ends in late June.

The Greek Prime Minister referred to the invitation as "a happy surprise" saying he would "study the proposal in detail," her announced in a statement.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, collectively the BRICS, announced last July that they were starting the new bank, based in Shanghai, to finance major infrastructure projects in emerging countries.

Yet the move to extend an invitation to Greece, and its debt-wracked economy, could also be an effort to gain a first client and the IMF-like influence the organization really wants. Greece is running out of cash and in desperate need of funds, which could allow the new bank to make a loan while exerting influence in Europe.

Negotiations between the IMF and Greece have stalled as Tsipras, who represents the leftist Syriza party, attempts to stick to his anti-austerity campaign promises.

Tsipras will discuss the invitation with top representatives in Saint Petersburg on June 18-20, the source added.

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