Greece-Russia Sign Energy Deal, Eye Further Co-op

Greece-Russia Sign Energy Deal, Eye Further Co-op

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement for the joint construction of South Stream pipeline through Greek territory, said.

According to the agreement, the two sides will found a Joint Venture company to administer the pipeline, in which the Greek side (DEPA) will hold 50% and Gazprom another 50%. “In energy we have the best prices and the best quality” Mr. Putin underlined. “And there is only a handful of countries around the globe selling energy” he added. Apart from energy, the two men focused on bilateral cooperation and international affairs. Mr. Putin said that the bilateral relations between the two countries are very good and will become even better, as time goes by.

The invitation that you extended to me, at what is for you an emotionally charged time, underlines the strategic relations between our countries and the friendship that binds them," Karamanlis said in statements made after meeting Putin in the Kremlin, referring to the Russian president's imminent departure from the presidential office on May 7.

He said the talks with Putin had reviewed the very good cooperation between Greece and Russia in recent years, while adding that they would "lay the foundations for further dynamic cooperation in all areas".

In addition to bilateral issues, Karamanlis said that he and Putin had also exchanged views on international affairs. According to the Greek premier, the Russian president had made an invaluable personal contribution to developing ties with Greece and bilateral relations would continue to deepen at the same rate after Putin assumes his new position as Russia's prime minister.

Putin referred to the important energy projects being carried out in collaboration with Greece, noting that "this cooperation is very important and will contribute to the energy security of Europe and of Greece". He commented on the economic ties between the two countries, saying that the overall turnover in trade transactions approached three billion dollars. The Russian president added that the two countries placed special emphasis on environmental issues and were in constant contact over international affairs. "We rely on the positive role that Greece has always played in relations between Russia and Europe," Putin said at one point.

The Russian leader stressed that Karamanlis will also be meeting his successor Dmitri Medvedev and emphasised that he was handing over the presidency against a background of major growth for the Russian economy and a stable political situation domestically. "Our bilateral relations will continue to improve," Putin added, expressing certainty that the new Russian president would prove a "good and reliable partner".

"I know that you monitor relations between Greece and Russia very closely and you can be sure that these will continue along the same lines in the future,".

Note that the pipeline, which will be jointly built by Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and Italy's energy group ENI , will eventually transport 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas a year to Europe. Greece will become a transit state on the southern leg of the pipeline which will pump gas to Italy.

The project, which aims to link Gazprom's Siberian gas fields with Europe and is seen as a competitor to the EU and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline, will cost around 10 billion euros. The construction phase of the 280-km (174 miles) pipeline, bypassing the congested Turkish Straits and pumping oil into the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis from the Bulgarian Black sea port of Burgas, is expected to start soon.

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