01 May, 2008
The Greek government on Wednesday unveiled the basic points of an Energy Agreement signed between Greece and Russia for the construction and operation of the South Stream natural gas pipeline on Greek territory.
The Greek section of the natural gas pipeline will begin from the Greek-Bulgarian borders carrying natural gas to Italy. The agreement will have an initial duration of 30 years, carrying around 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Greece will absorb part of this quantity and will also receive transit fees. Under the agreement, Gazprom and Desfa will soon sign an agreement to set up a joint venture to take over construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline.
The Energy Agreement seeks to upgrade energy security in Europe, supports the creation of a new natural gas pipeline system from the Russian Federation through the Black Sea, to supply Greece and other European countries. It also seeks to create the necessary conditions to plan, build and operate this system according to national legislations and international treaties.
Under the plan, the new company will be preferably based in Greece, with both parts sharing an equal 50 pct.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' trip to Moscow received extended coverage from the Russian media, most of which devoted several columns and minutes of air-time to the visit and the signature of the South Stream gas pipeline agreement on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The general consensus was that the visit and the agreement opened new horizons in cooperation between Greece and Russia and it was viewed as a final diplomatic success for Vladimir Putin before his departure from the presidential office to become Russia's prime minister.
The Greek premier also received record amounts of airtime in Russia's electronic media, such as the main television networks and the English-language satellite channel "Russia Today", which spoke of a "new page in strategic cooperation" between Greece and Russia and an "impressive improvement in bilateral relations in the last three-four years".
According to one Russian newspaper, for example, the South Stream pipeline made Greece an important link in Europe's energy policy, while it noted that Athens and Moscow had built on historic and cultural ties to become close partners in the energy sector.
The South Stream pipeline is not a competing one but it is supplementary in relation to the Nabucco pipeline.
This was stated on Wednesday by the European Commission's representative in Brussels, when asked whether the South Stream pipeline, whose construction is entering the final phase, also following Tuesday's agreement between Greece and Russia, constitutes a problem in relation to the Nabucco pipeline, whose construction is being backed by EU funds.
The Commission's representative said that the EU is backing Nabucco with the aim of strengthening Europe's energy supply from non-traditional sources. He added that the South Stream concerns supply from traditional sources and, consequently, it does not have a competing but a supplementary role to Nabucco, regarding Europe's energy security.
Source: Athens News Agency