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Greece and Russia, No big deal...

by Upstate NY Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 06:39:41 AM EST

This editorial published in this morning's Kathimerini (Athens) newspaper would have been big news 15 years ago when Andreas Papandreou was still in power and Greece regularly flirted with the USSR as a counterbalance to the USA's favoring of Turkey.

The recent Greek deals with Russia have been interesting, especially the oil pipeline that bypasses the Caucasuses and Turkey. So far, only the American and UK intelligence community (fronting for oil interests) have raised a stink about it, but the two orthodox countries are now making more deals than they ever have before. We can't forget that the reason Truman sent all the millions to Greece in the first place was to keep the Soviets out of the Med, and thus, coupled with Albania's self-imposed isolation, the USSR never had an outlet there.

The fact that Greece is making these deals now shows just how comfortable it has become within the security and economic framework of the EU. IMO, this is a huge sign of progress, especially since almost no one seems to have noticed its taking place.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

Well the oil pipeline project wasn't seen as too big of a deal (outside of the Hudson Institute etc). I mean even the US ambassador to Greece gave it the thumbs up - while Chevron is showing an active interest in participating. What does worry certain circles is the possibility of Russian involvement in the Turkey-Greece-Italy (TGI) gas pipeline. Note the words of the US ambassador:

For the Southern Corridor to realize its potential, the Governments of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Italy will have to stand together to overcome these and the many other sorts of obstacles that all complex energy projects confront. I know. I was involved in the creation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which came on line last year and which is making such a major contribution to global energy security. BTC was a difficult project, unprecedented in many ways, just as TGI is today. Yet it is now a reality.

Now what happens if we lose patience? What happens if we do not coordinate? If we do not stay united to bring Caspian supplies into TGI? Well, some are saying that the alternative, filling TGI with Gazprom gas, isn't so bad. This certainly is an option. Yet we believe that, if TGI is filled with Russian gas, a huge opportunity for increased competition in the European gas market will be lost.

Let me be clear: We're not against Gazprom gas. Gazprom already supplies 80% of non-European imported gas into the European Union and the firm has proved itself over time to be a reliable and committed supplier to most countries. But competition is good, and new sources of supply are even better. That is why the United States is diversifying its energy supply mix by working more closely with Gazprom, which has until now not been a major supplier to the United States. But within the European context, where Gazprom is by far the single most important gas supplier, if the Russians fill the gas pipeline to Italy, then Europe loses a tremendous and almost unique opportunity.

In fact, last year, Condi Rice's visit to Athens was almost exclusively about pressuring Greece to reject Russian participation in the TGI pipeline... Anyway, Gazprom is indeed making advances in Greece, since as we all know money talks...

Note though that the B-A pipeline is bound to increase tanker traffic on the Aegean, which increases the likelihood of an ecological disaster, which makes a lot of people kinda queasy about the whole project, especially given the fact that ~15% of Greek GDP (and ~15% of employment) comes directly or indirectly from tourism... (and around the same percentage from shipping - so those dangerous tankers would be Greek-owned for the most part...)

On a final note, I'm not at all sure whether US involvement in the Greek civil war was about Soviet access to the Aegean (it was never realistically pursued by the Soviets and the US possibly knew as much) - but that's another discussion (and Albania has no coast on the Aegean!)...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 08:52:01 PM EST
Yes, Talos, thanks for the corrections. I meant Mediterranean of course!

So, Greece is building a gas pipeline out to Italy, why not an oil pipeline? I guess Greece herself would have to foot that bill to avoid damaging Aegean tourism. But somehow I don't think the money is available.

And thanks for your much more detailed approach to my diary. Maybe yours should be flipped with mine somehow?

by Upstate NY on Fri Apr 13th, 2007 at 09:38:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well it seems that the partners in these pipeline projects are more interested in carrying gas and less in carrying oil.

Two articles, written by Greek officials, might also be of interest:

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 08:04:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Further note: Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was in Athens yesterday and commented on both projects discussed, pretty much in the same vein as the US government: B-S pipeline great, TGI even better as long as Gazprom stays out of it:

Piebalgs praised the work Greece does for diversification of energy supplies to the European Union and to the world markets. "Quick realisation of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project will give much more chances to deliver oil from the Caspian region to the world markets," he told the press conference...

The commissioner said he hoped that a new natural gas pipeline project expected to connect Greece with Italy will "ship gas from the Caspian area and... new suppliers." The pipeline would be an extension of the Turkey-Greece gas pipeline.

Asked about Gazprom's participation in the Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline, the commissioner told New Europe that so far he has not heard about such a plan. Piebalgs said the Commission hopes that the pipeline would carry gas from the Caspian countries. "We have enough Russian gas in our infrastructure. We are not short of gas from Russia, we are short from other suppliers," he said.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2007 at 07:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are not short of gas from Russia, we are short from other suppliers

Well, a Latvian Andris Piebalgs may ask for help with gas supply his closest baltic neighbours - Estonians and Lithuanians. Their SS veterans who fought so bravely against nasty russkie and jews in ww2 are so happy now to be allowed to have fascistic demonstrations (in a free democratic way, naturally) that far... er... emit loads of gas while marching

by lana on Sun Apr 15th, 2007 at 10:07:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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