Greece, Turkey to open pipeline

The premiers of Turkey and Greece will inaugurate a natural gas pipeline this weekend to connect natural gas fields in the Caspian and Central Asian regions with energy-hungry markets in Europe. Just over two years ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Greek counterpart, Costas Karamanlis, met on a bridge across the river that divides their countries to launch the joint construction of the 300-kilometer (186-mile) pipeline from Bursa, Turkey, to Komotini in Greece. The pipeline will later be extended to Italy as part of an extensive pipeline initiative known as the Southern Europe Gas Ring Project and help broaden Europe’s energy supplies. The project is seen as helping Greece build up its position on the European energy map. «Greece’s geopolitical position is upgraded, the country increases its energy security and creates important growth and financial benefits,» Development Minister Christos Folias told Reuters. «The two countries (Greece and Turkey) contribute to securing Europe’s energy supply.» The Greek-Turkish pipeline is expected to carry 11.5 billion cubic meters (405 billion cubic feet) of gas per year once connections are made to other planned pipelines. The pipeline project also marks the warming of relations between Greece and Turkey, the two NATO allies which have been at odds over the war-divided island of Cyprus, as well as over air space and sea boundaries in the Aegean. US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman will also attend the border ceremony, underlining the importance Washington places on the Greek-Turkish-Italian project.