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Greece involved in the economic war between Russia and the West

03 August 2014 / 22:08:47  GRReporter
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The economic war between the West and Russia after the imposition of tough new sanctions on Moscow by the EU and the U.S. and the threats of reprisals by the Kremlin will be felt in Greece soon.

Still in next week it is expected that the Russian authorities will impose restrictions on fruit imports from all EU countries - something that is expected to have a negative impact on Greece which exports a wide range of products to Russia.

Meanwhile, last Thursday a meeting was held headed by Yiannis Maniatis at the Ministry of Environment, that might turn out to be very important for the upcoming winter.

The only certainty is that the situation in eastern Ukraine, which led to the freezing of relations between the EU and Russia will not be solved easily and Vladimir Putin is expected to respond to new sanctions by imposing restrictions on EU countries before using his strongest trump card – natural gas.

In the eye of this economic storm, apart from the big EU countries, the smaller ones are also expected to be involved and could suffer even more seriously from the Russian sanctions.

What does embargo on fruit mean for Greece?

Several days ago, the Office for phytosanitary control of the Russian Federation announced that most probably next week it will impose restrictions on fruit imports from Greece and the entire European Union.

The official reason is the importation of products that have the dangerous infectious parasite Grapholita molesta, however, "between the lines" Moscow's desire to counter new sanctions from Europe can be read.

It is therefore clear that if the consequences of the Russian threat materialize, the biggest losses will be borne by the producers of West and Central Macedonia (Imathia, Pella, Pieria, Kozani), Thessaly (Larissa, Magnesia) and the Peloponnese (Ilia) where the fruit production is concentrated.

Total exports from Greece to Russia amount to USD 611.3 million, of which 34% are of fruit. Also, the total share of Greece in Russia's imports of apricots, nectarines, peaches and cherries amounted to 12.5% (in absolute numbers 57,800 tons, worth USD 90.1 million)

What did Greece export to Russia in 2013 in millions of euros:

Leather 87.45

Kiwi 25.7

Peaches 24.5

Strawberries 23.5

Lifts 16.6

Paints, varnishes 12.01

Apricots, cherries, etc. 12.01

Nectarines 10.0

Olive oil and derived products 8.05

Fruit purées, marmalades 6.39

Bass and other 5.26

Sheets and thin plates of clay 5.04

Cucumbers 5.04

Metal sheets 4.87

Olives 4.87

The "secret" meeting at the Ministry of Environment

In this climate, the question arises as to how the country would react to a possible energy crisis in the event that Moscow shuts off the gas.

Greece is very dependent on Russian gas, which reaches the Greek-Bulgarian border through the Ukraine, and if supplies are disrupted the winter will bring very severe problems.

Potential supply problems will affect both businesses and households using natural gas, as well as electricity production from gas stations.

The main "weapon" of the country to deal with such crises are the Revithousa facilities where quantities of liquid gas can be stored. In the field of energy, internal sources (lignite, hydro and renewable sources) are alternatives.

Thursday's meeting as attended by the Chief Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Konstantinos Mathioudakis, representatives of regulatory energy bodies, the Greek operator of the natural gas system, the independent operator of the transmission of electricity, the National Electricity Company and the State supplier of natural gas.

Stress tests for the winter

In early July, the European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Edinger, had sent a letter to the Minister of Environment and Energy, Yiannis Maniatis, saying that the Ministry should prepare a report by the end of August on simulating emergencies (stress tests) due to a possible disruption of the natural gas supply. Similar letters were sent by the Commissioner to all ministers of the Member States that could be affected by supply disruption.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy is preparing a special report that will list possible consequences not only in the gas sector, but also for production facilities as a whole.

During the meeting, the Minister was informed of the report's progress and of the initiatives taken by the country on the following topics:

• Study of the risk for next winter, based on scenarios of supply disruptions, both of the transit via the pipeline across Ukraine and directly from Russia.

• Determination of specific direct measures to deal with potential disruptions in supply.

• Determination of preventive measures that should be implemented immediately.

• Measures necessary with a view to unity between countries, taking into account the regional dimension.

Immediately after the meeting, Maniatis said that the conduct of stress tests was a necessary preventive measure in view of possible interference in gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine next winter. The results will be described in a special report that will be sent to the European Commission.


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