Energy accord on the table

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to sign an agreement on Greece’s participation in the Russian-Italian South Stream gas pipeline in Moscow today, according to sources. Karamanlis, who left for Moscow yesterday, will meet with Putin in one of the Russian leader’s last official meetings with a foreign head of state as he will hand over his position to Dmitry Medvedev on May 7. The Greek premier is also scheduled to meet with Medvedev. «An intergovernmental agreement should be signed on Greek collaboration in the construction and operation» of the South Stream pipeline, a Kremlin source said, according to AFP news. The South Stream pipeline, being built by Russian gas giant Gazprom and Italian energy company ENI, will pass through the Black Sea, from Russia to Bulgaria. From Bulgaria, two branches are under study, one to the northwest toward Austria and another to the southwest toward Greece and Italy. Russia has already secured the participation of Bulgaria and Hungary in South Stream. Greek Development Ministry officials have been busy working on the final details of the agreement with their Russian peers so that the two leaders can sign it today. According to industry sources, Russian businesses are also eyeing stakes in Greek energy companies in the field of oil and natural gas. Ties between Greece and Russia have recently become stronger as the two nations also share political views on a number of issues, such as Kosovo. Putin is likely to announce that Russia backs talks being held between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the name of the Balkan country and that Moscow will adopt the title the two sides agree upon. Joint steps in Europe’s energy map, involving natural gas and petroleum projects have also resulted in frequent reciprocal visits by Karamanlis and Putin. Today’s visit by Karamanlis to Moscow is his third trip to Russia, while Putin has also visited Greece three times.

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