Greece flows into South Stream
On April 29, Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light to the South Stream project. For Russia, the pipeline is a way of diversifying its delivery routes and sending gas to southern Europe, bypassing
The 900 km long gas pipeline will go via the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on into Europe. The project is a joint venture between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Italy’s Eni, and will cost around $US 14 billion.
It'll be at least three years before a multi-million dollar pipeline between Russia and Greece is completed.
“Gazprom is trying to defend its position in Europe by building yet another Ukrainian bypass and trying to develop new markets. In this case it is southern Europe which is not a traditional market for Russian gas,” commented Vitaly Ermakov from Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
Oil is another focus of the countries’ mutual interests.
Athens is also taking part in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project. This oil pipeline starts in the Bulgarian port of Burgas and stretches on to the Greek city of Alexandroupolis bypassing the busy Bosporus and the Dardanelles.
Its construction will begin this year, and is estimated to be completed by the beginning of 2011.
“The demand for gas is growing and the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline would lead to closer relations between our countries. We should provide energy security not only for our country, but for European colleagues as well,” said Kostas Karamanlis.
Business and cultural ties have also improved within the last decade.
Greece is a popular destination for Russian tourists.
And though a member of NATO, Greece still imports weaponry from Russia.
“Greece is primarily interested in three things – air defence, navy – mainly landing ships, and ground machinery like armoured carriers,” said Ivan Konovalov from Centre for Strategies and Technologies.