PM has energy for poll battle

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was yesterday given plans detailing Greece’s energy policy until 2020, which sources said will be used as one of the main elements in his upcoming election campaign. Karamanlis held talks with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas who revealed the strategy that Greece will follow from next year. Sources said that New Democracy wants to put particular emphasis on its energy policy in pre-election speeches as the government considers that it has a number of tangible achievements to highlight. One of these will be the natural gas pipeline that is to run through Greece and Turkey and which will bring gas from Azerbaijan’s Shakh Deniz gas field to Italy. Athens and Ankara were due to launch the 285-kilometer pipeline next month but Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Mehmet Hilmi Guler said yesterday that the prime ministers of the two countries will inaugurate the project between August 16 and 26. Karamanlis is expected to meet with President Karolos Papoulias between August 20 and 24 to inform him that he intends to call general elections. September 23 is thought to be Karamanlis’s first choice for the date of the poll. PASOK sources said that one of the themes the opposition party will focus on is to convince voters that Karamanlis, who had said he would see out a full four-year term, has been forced to call early elections because he fears ND’s popularity is being eroded.