18 November, 2006
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday praised a ministerial summit here by members of the so-called "energy community" of Southeastern Europe, the first after the signing of a pact to create a regional energy bloc by July 1, 2006.
The summit agreed to accept Cyprus as full member of the community, while another four countries --including Turkey -- received observer status.
The minister, representing Athens, presented several proposals during the summit: to begin immediate discussions over the creation of a two new regional energy markets between Black Sea and Mediterranean countries and to organize in Athens - in June 2007 - an international conference on energy-saving policies and actions to promote renewable energy sources.
Sioufas will also meet with FYROM government officials.
In addressing the summit, development ministry secretary-general Nikos Stephanou said the country’s international energy interconnections were progressing rapidly and satisfactorily.
Commenting on a Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline project, Stephanou said the Greek side will have completed its part of the pipeline by April 2007 and said he expects the Turkish side to do the same. Referring on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, he said consultations to sign a tri-party agreement to build and operate the pipeline were at a "very advance stage".
Greece desires a further growth of its economic relations with FYROM, in the energy sector as well as in other fields, Greece's development minister Dimitris Sioufas said late Thursday in Skopje, following a visit to the Greek-owned OKTA refinery and a meeting with representatives of Greek companies in FYROM.
"Greece's desire is that economic relations with FYROM develop even further, both in the sector of energy and in other sectors," Sioufas told reporters, opining that there was large room for further advancement of the bilateral relations which, he added, would contribute to the their common economic growth and strengthen the good-neighborhood relations.
Sioufas, in FYROM for the ministerial meeting of the SE Europe Energy Community (ECSEE), toured the OKTA crude oil refinery outside of Skopje, which was acquired in 1999 by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), and was briefed by ELPE president Efthymios Christodoulou on the activities and business plans of the production unit, which employs some 1,000 people and is the largest Greek investment in FYROM.
In 2005, OKTA emerged as the largest business concern in FYROM based on turnover (approx. 390 million euros).
On Thursday night, Sioufas visited Greece's Liaison Office in Skopje, where he met with the Greek business community in FYROM.
The minister, accompanied by development ministry secretary general Nikos Stefanou and other ministry officials, is representing Greece at the Southeast Europe Emergy Community's Ministerial Council meeting taking place in the FYROM capital on Friday, the first by the Ministerial Council since the signing of the Energy Community's founding Treaty in Athens in October 2005 -- which entered into force on July 1, 2006 -- by the EU and nine SE Europe partners: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, FYROM, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and UNMIK on behalf of Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution . The Treaty, the first ever multi-lateral accord in SE Europe, creates the legal framework for an integrated energy market. Negotiations are ongoing with Turkey for joining the Treaty at a later stage, while Moldova, Ukraine and Norway are also expected to join later.
The purpose of the Treaty is to create a new, strong regional market, under the aegis of the EU, with the participation of five EU member states and nine Balkan countries, covering the fields of electricity and natural gas, which will result in major benefits for the countries, businesses and consumers.
Source: Athens News Agency