The prospect of a Russian natural gas pipeline passing through Greece is being discussed again in light of a key deal signed between Moscow and Ankara in Istanbul last Monday.
In a sign of warming relations between Ankara and Moscow, that were seriously tested after the Turks shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border last November, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin signed an agreement for the construction of a pipeline under the Black Sea all the way to the Greek-Turkish border.
Turkish Stream is an alternative to the South Stream project (Russia-Bulgaria-Serbia-Hungary-Austria-Italy) which was abandoned last year in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and a change of heart in Sofia.
Work on the new pipeline is expected to begin in 2017, while its operation has been scheduled for 2019. Still open is linking the pipeline to Central Europe through Greece and Italy. Italy’s Edison is interested in the project.
Athens has also shown interest in the project. In June 2015, then energy minister Panayiotis Lafazanis signed an agreement with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak on extending the pipeline to Europe through Greek territory, with financing coming from Russia.
Novak sought to revive the deal during a meeting with Energy Minister Panos Skourletis on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair last month.
Athens is bound to face skepticism in Washington and several European governments, resulting in opposition from the European Commission.