ECONOMY

Russia, Bulgaria and Greece sign key gas pipeline protocol

Russia, Bulgaria and Greece last week signed a key protocol which will open the way for the realization of the long-delayed oil pipeline that will connect the Black Sea with the Aegean, Development Minister Christos Folias announced in an interview with Kathimerini yesterday. «A major and encouraging step has been made that will allow us to move forward. There remain, of course, several issues for discussion, but we are on the right track,» he said. The protocol provides for the setting up of a joint international company which will build the pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Greece’s Alexandroupolis, carrying Russian oil and bypassing the congested Bosporus. Folias said he found an excellent spirit of cooperation during his recent visit to Moscow. «Loose ends are being tied up on the basis of a specific timetable and we are ready to take sure, steady and, above all, quick steps. Already, on my own initiative, representatives of the three national consortia participating in the scheme met in Athens and concluded the signing of a protocol which opens the way for the setting up of the international company,» he said. «The Greek-Turkish gas pipeline has been finished and is being inaugurated today by the two countries’ prime ministers. It is the result of our outward-looking and dynamic energy strategy. This development upgrades Greece’s geopolitical significance, strengthens its energy security and creates multiple benefits for growth. The importance of the project is evident, not just for the participating countries but for the European continent as a whole. The two countries thus contribute to Europe’s energy supplies, bolstering their relations at the same time. In addition, with the implementation of these major energy projects, Greece is being transformed into an energy hub and an attractive pole of investment in the energy sector.» Referring to what appeared to be a recent about-turn by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) on the issue of its new business plan in the face of union opposition, Folias said it is everyone’s duty to ensure the corporation’s competitiveness in an environment that has changed drastically due to EU legislation and energy market deregulation. «PPC’s future concerns the Greek people as a whole and the proposals of its management should be treated in good faith,» he added. Folias categorically rejected suggestions that PPC’s signing of a protocol of cooperation with Germany’s RWE was designed to let in the Germans by the back door. «Market deregulation in Greece coincides with the need to create new power producing capacity, and PPC must come up with rational, credible and competitive answers. There are some specific requirements which have to be explored.»