Samaras, Putin hold energy talks

Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday discussed the prospects for a deeper bilateral cooperation in the energy sector amid reports of a growing interest in Russian firms for potential investments in Greece?s ports, airports and railway infrastructure.

According to sources, the meeting in Moscow took place in a very cordial atmosphere though the Russian premier reportedly impressed upon the conservative leader, who is widely expected to lead the next government, that Greece must decide whether or not it will join pending projects by the end of this year. With the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project stalled, attention is now focused on the South Stream natural gas pipeline.

Earlier in the day, Samaras met with the chairman of Russia?s state-owned energy giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, who reportedly expressed an interest in investing in Greece?s Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and gas distribution operator (DESFA) as well as the Public Power Corporation (PPC). Miller also conveyed Russia?s interest in building power stations in western Greece that could transform gas being carried by the South Stream pipeline into electricity that could be channeled to Italy.

Samaras also met with Russia?s Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who reportedly raised the issue of the detention of Ephraim, the monk at the center of the Vatopedi real estate affair. Kirill reportedly said that whether or not Ephraim is convicted is a matter for Greek justice alone, but he added that the monk?s imprisonment before trial was an extreme measure, appropriate only for dangerous criminals. Samaras responded that he had full faith in the Greek justice system, adding that it had been proven that the Vatopedi land swap was not a scandal.

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