Pipeline deal signed in Bulgaria

After talking for 13 years about building a pipeline to carry Russian oil through Bulgaria to northern Greece, from where it will be shipped to western markets, Greece, Russia and Bulgaria finally signed the deal during a ceremony in Sofia yesterday. Greek officials hailed the agreement on the 285-kilometer pipeline from the Black Sea port of Burgas to the harbor of Alexandroupolis in Thrace – bypassing the Bosporus strait in Turkey – as an historic move. «This ends an issue that had been outstanding for 13 years, and sets the foundations for a project of great significance in the fields of the economy and energy, not just for the countries involved, but for the entire region,» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told journalists in Athens. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who signed the deal on behalf of Greece, pointed out that the project «still has a long way to go» before completion – expected some time after 2008 – but said the three governments had «done their duty.»

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