Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conservation Friday noon. The two leader reportedly talked about the Greek participation in the BRICS Development Bank and the Turkish Stream, a joint natural gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey. According to Greek government sources and Russian President’s press office, Tsipras and Putin talked about “the business and energy cooperation between the two countries” and the upcoming visit of the Greek PM to St Petersburg to participate in the International Economic Forum (18-20 June).
More details did not leak to the press, but Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said after the two leaders’ talk that it is early to speak about a Greek default and that “it is necessary for Greece to reach an agreement wit its partners.”
The conversation lasted last one hour (translation incl.) and took place after Tsipras’ request. Details about
Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said that it is early to speak about a Greek default and that “it is necessary for Greece to reach an agreement wit its partners.”
The phone call comes a couple of days after the U.S.A. expressed for one more time a very clear disapproval to the Greek participation in the Turkish Stream pipeline project that will bring natural gas from Russia to Europe via Turkey and Greece.
US angry at Greek Turkish Stream participation
Amos Hochstein, Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs leading the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) of the US state Department, told the New York Times beginning of May that:
“The United States wants Greece to focus on the Western-backed TAP pipeline project rather than the rival Gazprom-favoured project Turkish Stream.”
The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that is set to bring gas from Azerbaijan by crossing through Turkey, Greece, Albania and under the Adriatic Sea to Italy.
Hochstein, who spoke to the press after a meeting with Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, had stressed that while Russia was a major gas supplier for Europe, it was important for Greece and Europe to ensure diverse suppliers.
“Diversification is ultimately the best way to create security of supply. And that means that you should be allowed to bring in other sources of gas that are non-Russian, just to have competition,” so Hochstein.
Amos Hochstein repeated the US’s objections two days ago during the annual conference of Cypriot organizations in the USA.
“We are facing an energy crisis in Europe and if the Turkish pipeline project that will transport Russian gas to Europe proceeds, Greece will become part of the problem rather than of the solution.”
On Friday, Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis described Hochstein’s remarks as “provocative” and “almost threatening.“
“Greece is not a ‘land plot’, it cannot be blackmailed and it is not part of any problem,” Papangiotis Lafazanis said.
Beginning of June Lafazanis said during a visit to Moscow that Greece was ready to invest €2 billion to the Turkish Stream pipeline. and sign a support memorandum as soon as possible. According to the Greek Energy Minister, the project would create 20,000 jobs and its construction can be finished by 2019.
Greece’s new government had approached Russia right from the start of assuming power last January not only due to “traditional relations between the two countries” but also as political pressure tool towards its creditors IMF, EU and ECB.
Some Greek media claimed that the news “Tsipras – Putin talk on the phone” had caused the Athens Stock Exchange to plunge 5%.
Despite the US “threats” Greece remains defiant and will continue to do so especially now that the broke country is also at odds with its creditors and negotiations on further Austerity Reforms have reached a dangerous deadlock.
US tries to lure Greece with IMF-candies if it withdraws from TS?
According to Turkish media, a US Energy Expert, Gal Luft, claimed that the U.S.A. would influcen the IMF to reward Greece if it would withdraw from the Turkish Stream.
Speaking to Turkish News Agency Anadolu, Gal Luft, “a senior adviser to the United States Energy Security Council,” said
“If Greece withdraws from the Turkish Stream project the U.S. will expect the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reward Greece.
The U.S. has not showed its influence on the IMF for Greece in terms of its own energy policies.”
I don’t know what kind of authorization Gal Luft has to make such “promises” as executive director of Washing-based non-profit Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) that formed also the think-tank Energy Security Council in 2011. But, nevertheless, Luft’s “candies” made the headlines in Turkish newspaper.
Yes, what is also interesting is that according to Sabah daily, another four EU members Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have announced that they have offered a common project to Russia regarding the Turkish Stream. At the same time, Iran is also interested in participating in the Turkish Stream with Iranian National Gas Company International Affairs Manager Azizullah Ramezani to have announced that, after the international sanctions applied to Iran are nullified, Iran might consider delivering its natural gas to Europe through the Turkish Stream.
PS and by 2016 or 2019, we will be sinking into seas of natural gas, I’m afraid.