The Greek Press Today
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17 May, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, was reassuring as regards repercussions for the economy stemming from soaring international oil prices.
Karamanlis said that the government is vigilant but it is not concerned, stressing that "I wish, once again, to repeat that due to the upsurge in international oil prices we are vigilant but we are not concerned as to the targets we have set. And this is so because we have made realistic assessments. We are following developments, we are speeding up the implementation of our policy and we are intensifying checks in the market."
The prime minister referred to the issue of Iran, reiterating Greek positions on a peaceful solution to the crisis, while making a review of the course of international prices and stressing that the country depends greatly on oil.
"As it is known to all, for over two years now, an unprecedented upsurge in international oil prices is under way. It is obvious, and we had stressed this in time, that it is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Since January 2004 until today the international price of Brent oil has increased by 130 percent and the international price of oil by 145 percent. This development is pressuring European, western and developing economies. It has a negative effect on the global economy. On growth rates, the carrying out of state budgets, competitiveness and inflation. All these concern our country in particular since it has much greater dependence on oil compared to other European countries. The problem has taken on new dimensions following the case of Iran. A case for which we have crystal-clear positions. No to the use of nuclear weapons, yes to the seeking of a peaceful diplomatic solution," he said.
Karamanlis further said that the government followed an aggressive energy policy from the beginning and underlined the two basic directions followed.
"The first direction concerns the strengthening of the role of our country in international energy organizations and the promotion of major energy projects which render it an international energy corridor in the sectors of oil, natural gas and electricity," he said.
Karamanlis added that "the second direction of the new energy policy concerns the creation of a new modern institutional framework in the sector of electricity, natural gas, oil and, of course, clean forms of energy."
Lastly, the prime minister pointed out that "the time we were assuming the responsibility for the governance of the country, on the one hand the electric energy supply system had exhausted its limits and, on the other hand, major pending issues still remained regarding the preparation of the country in light of the Olympic Games. We faced, indeed, particularly at the beginning, considerable difficulties. However, we succeeded in doing well. And today we are at an advanced stage in the implementation of the New Energy Policy. Considerable changes and reforms have been promoted and new bills and new actions for the implementation of our plan are being forwarded. Our policy commitments are turning into practice."
Energy investment of 4.5bln euros seen by 2010: The government is expecting its energy policy to bring sector investment of 4.5 billion euros by 2010, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday.
"The central concern of our new energy policy is to strengthen the country's international role in the sector," Sioufas told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
Policy was centered on deregulation of domestic electricity and natural gas markets, expansion of the natural gas network, use of lignite, and the promotion of large-scale investments in renewable energy and energy saving.
The government also wanted to make Greece an international transit centre for natural gas, electricity and oil, the minister noted.
In addition, work had been undertaken to lessen the country's dependence on oil.
The legislative framework for the country's energy was near completion with a new system for issuing licenses in renewable energy, which, coupled with financial incentives, would help to bring investment of about 2.5 billion euros by 2010.
Also due shortly was the incorporation of a European Union directive on energy efficiency for buildings that would save energy and create new professions in the labor market.
Finally, a new framework was being devised for research and extraction of hydrocarbons that would attract fresh investment; and the codification of laws on quarrying and mining, the minister said.
Due for tendering next week were a mining concession in Vei, Florina; and in June, another mining concession in Elassona. In 2006, other tenders would be called for the creation of three new Gas Supply Companies to handle natural gas for central mainland Greece, central Macedonia, and eastern Macedonia and Thrace.
In addition, by the end of 2006 an electricity transmission line would be completed linking Greece to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in 2007, a transmission line to Turkey. Links will also be built to Bulgaria and Italy, Sioufas reported.
"Not only will Greece's electricity supplies be ensured, but the conditions will be created for the export of electricity produced by (Athens-quoted) Public Power Corporation and private output plants in the immediate future," he noted.
Sioufas also welcomed work in economic diplomacy for the energy sector conducted by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni and her predecessor, Petros Molyviatis.
Finally, the minister reported that the cabinet had approved his proposal of appointing the chairman of Public Gas Corporation, Raphael Moyssis, as head of the National Energy Strategy Council.
Source: Athens News Agency