ECONOMY

Plans full of energy for EU presidency

State-owned Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and its Turkish counterpart Botas signed in Istanbul on Wednesday a deal for the supply of Caspian natural gas through a pipeline under the Dardanelles strait, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said late on the same day. Speaking to the Association of Petroleum Trading Companies, he said he expects to sign an official state agreement with his Turkish counterpart in about a month’s time. He also said he considers it likely that progress will be made during next week’s visit of Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg for a final agreement on the terms of operation of the planned oil pipeline linking Burgas on the Black Sea with Alexandroupolis on the Aegean. He added that the project now faced improved prospects because of possible new sources of oil that would feed the pipeline, apart from the original Russian supplies. Tsochadzopoulos said energy will be high on the agenda of the Greek presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003, in view of the Council of Ministers’ strong interest in promoting the speedy completion of a single market for electric power and natural gas in a few years’ time. «As an agreement between the EU and Russia for the long-term and strategic relations in the energy sector may be already considered as a given during our tenure of the presidency, oil, primarily, and natural gas, at a second level, will be the dominant issue. We have a responsibility to achieve the best possible deals for European citizens,» he said. He added that the Greek presidency was also certain to iron out issues concerning emergency stocks, which have been the subject of some controversy recently. He said most EU members were in favor of measures that would provide for the greatest possible protection against market upheavals in a possible crisis. «Our British colleague has expressed the view that if the Commission wishes to have special market management measures for all crises, this constitutes an intervention in the operation of the market. Nevertheless, the majority agrees that when you want to pursue the EU’s political and economic unification, you must formulate tools that do not leave EU nations feeling they simply have weakly regulated markets in danger of collapse during a crisis,» Tsochadzopoulos said.