By Chryssa Liaggou
The chief executive officer of Russian energy giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, reportedly asked Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for clear terms regarding the privatization of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) during their meeting on Tuesday in Athens.
The Gazprom chief’s visit to Greece was meant to send a message to Washington and Brussels concerning Russia’s strong interest in the broader region of Southeastern Europe, where new developments are taking shape in the energy sector.
Miller’s meeting with the prime minister lasted about 40 minutes and was conducted without an interpreter in order to ensure there would be no leak of the contents of the talks. Although no statements were made afterward by either side, Gazprom issued a press release confirming its CEO’s meetings in Athens.
The two men were said to have discussed cooperation in the field of natural gas and particularly Gazprom’s participation in the DEPA sell-off.
A meeting also took place between Miller and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis “in the context of which the current and future activities of the Greek energy market were discussed,” the Gazprom press release stated.
Sources from the prime minister’s office said the government welcomes the Russian interest and that “Mr Miller left satisfied with the discussions.” The same sources responded to American reactions on the issue, saying that the tender will proceed in full transparency and that whoever tables the biggest offer will win it.
They added that Gazprom expressed concern about the handling of the tender by the state privatization fund (TAIPED) to date. The Russian firm also raised the issue of what it deems as unfavorable terms that TAIPED has set in the tender proclamation.
Gazprom is said to have specifically cited the risk the company runs of losing the 180-million-euro guarantee that comes with its bid if the European competition authorities decide against ratifying its winning the tender or set any limitations that would render it a loss-making venture for the Russians.