Tsipras and Putin signal step forward on pipeline

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed energy cooperation in a telephone conversation on Thursday during which the Russian leader expressed his readiness to finance a Greek company that will participate in the construction of a Russian pipeline that would carry natural gas to Europe, Tsipras’s office said.

The timing of the conversation was significant. It came as Gazprom announced that its Turkish Stream project, supplying Russian gas to Turkey, will start operating in December next year. It also came ahead of a scheduled visit to Athens on Friday by the US State Department’s envoy for international energy affairs Amos Hochstein who is expected to present Greek officials with American positions on energy strategy in the region.

According to a statement from Tsipras’s office, the premier confirmed Greece’s readiness to participate in the construction of a Greek pipeline to transfer Russian natural gas from the Greek-Turkish border to other European countries.

As for Putin, he “expressed his intention to support a plan to finance the Greek company that will build the pipeline which could attract energy and growth investments and whose cost could be covered by the company’s profits from operating [the pipeline].”

Tsipras’s office also announced that the premier will travel to Saint Petersburg on June 18-20 to participate in an international business forum and will meet again with Putin.

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