Athens dangles oil offer

Greece is ready to cooperate closely with Turkey in the construction of pipelines that will bring in oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea area to Europe, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday in Washington. Tsochadzopoulos, on an official visit to the US capital, yesterday met with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Their talks focused on the transfer of Caspian Sea natural gas and oil to Europe. Tsochadzopoulos informed Abraham on the recent agreement between Greece and Turkey to construct a pipeline that will bring natural gas from Iran to Greece and beyond, into western Europe and on Greece’s plans to build a pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece, in order to carry Russian oil shipped across the Black Sea. «We have a common interest in the transportation of oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea into Europe… the issue is to give priority to cooperation between Greece and Turkey so that natural gas can be sent from Azerbaijan into European markets,» Tsochadzopoulos said after talks. «The issue is we must first lay the basis for cooperation with Turkey and then look at the possibility of transporting energy from other countries,» he said. The USA has made the construction of an oil pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, in southern Turkey, its strategic priority. Tsochadzopoulos said the US did not see the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline as competition. «If we don’t cut rates immediately after these figures, it doesn’t mean we are pessimistic. The fall in inflation is very positive,» he said. «We will try to look at future inflation. For this, we will look at the employment market, total supply and demand, the balance of payments, monetary trends, foreign exchange and international developments,» Serdengecti said. «Of course, we can cut rates at any time.» Analysts now expect the central bank to wait for early signs of March inflation before cutting rates.

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