All good on the Eastern Front. Greece and Russia signed a memorandum of cooperation on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is going to meet President Vladimir Putin in the afternoon. The Greek delegation officially attends the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Friday morning, Russia and Greece signed a preliminary agreement to set up a joint venture to build a pipeline through Greece.
The memorandum on construction of the extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline through Greece was signed by Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak.
“Our meeting today is a historical meeting… The memorandum expresses the readiness of both sides to bring the south direction of the pipeline to implementation,” Lafazanis said, according to Sputnik news agency.
“The Greek extension of the Turkish Stream project is called the South European pipeline,” Novak said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Construction will start in 2016 and be completed by 2019.
“The two countries will have equal shares in the company,” Novak added. Construction of the pipeline in Greece will be financed by Russia, and Athens will return the money afterward.
Lafazanis estimates the cost of construction at 2 billion euro.
“Russian gas giant Gazprom had earlier proposed footing the bill for building a Greek pipeline extension of the Russia-Turkish energy venture TurkStream,” spokeswoman for the Russian energy ministry said told AFP.
The project aims to deliver gas to Europe while bypassing the Ukraine.
Greece’s European partners and the U.S.A. have strongly opposed Greece’s involvement in the Russian project. But, given the current circumstances of the Greek – Creditors bailout talks, one would have been surprised if Athens had not signed the memorandum.
An additional politically binding memorandum is expected to be signed in the next weeks.
PS I heard that Saint Petersburg is a wonderful place full of culture, opera, ballet, Kandinsky and other nice things. Life is not just scaremongering and bailout talks, after all.