ECONOMY

Greeks and Azeris make energy plans

Turkey’s insistence on controlling trade in Azeri natural gas which crosses Turkish territory is posing serious obstacles to European plans for the transit of the commodity through Greece to Italy. The issue was reaffirmed yesterday during a visit by the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to Athens, with a delegation of officials from the Azeri state gas company Socar. «Azerbaijan is making an effort to strengthen Europe’s energy security,» said Aliyev, stressing the Caspian Sea country’s willingness to expand cooperation with Greece. In meetings with his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Aliyev discussed the supply to Greece of 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Azerbaijan as well as the signing of a four-party state agreement on the Interconnection Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) pipeline. This project, linking Azerbaijan with Italy, through Turkey and Greece, is expected to transmit 8 billion cubic meters per year. The European Union decided to fund it with 100 million euros just after the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis earlier this year. Although Turkey had seemed willing to tone down its stance on controlling the Azeri gas transiting its soil before the standoff between Moscow and Kiev, it now appears to be putting up barriers again in view of the EU’s desire to diversify its energy sources and end dependence on gas from Russia. Greek and Azeri officials also signed an agreement for cooperation on renewable energy sources.