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SYRIZA will not turn Greece into an energy banana republic

11 March 2015 / 22:03:16  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

"The liberal deregulation of the energy market that has occurred in recent years at the insistence of the European Union and the Troika, and the segmentation of public companies, has not contributed to the recovery of the economy but has prolonged the nightmare for our country, exacerbating energy poverty and economic recession." This is the opinion of the new Greek cabinet on the attempted reforms and privatization in the energy sector, which were started by the previous government.

In his speech to the participants in the annual Athens Energy Forum 2015, competent Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis stressed that Greece was too small to "continue to be a kind of an economic protectorate of the Troika, with the status of an energy banana republic."

He added, "Greece and its government will not become a pawn for unilateral energy choices or axes in the name of some sort of said-to-be necessary diversification of energy suppliers to the European Union."

At the end of his speech, Lafazanis however pointed out that Greece had the ambition to become an energy hub in Europe. In this regard, according to the Minister, the government supported the construction of the TAP pipeline and the interconnectors between Greece and Bulgaria IGB, aiming to gain compensation benefits for "the country and the people."

Most of the participants expressed the view that Greece is well positioned to become a successful transit hub within the Southern Corridor. According to Ambassador and Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies Matthew Bryza "the worst thing that Athens could do is to step back to the benefit of monopolies and not to take advantage of the existing environment."

He stressed that the United States fully supported the TAP project, as "a project must have commercial importance to support it." In addition, Bryza said that it could include supplies from various sources, such as Turkmenistan, Iran and northern Iraq.

"The project has entered a new phase. We are currently investing in infrastructure projects in Albania, because they need renovation," said External Affairs Director of TAP Michael Hoffman. He added that the consortium had the full support of the governments of those countries through which the pipeline would pass, including the Greek one. "TAP puts Greece in the centre of Europe's energy map. It will create jobs and bring revenue to the state each year."

Elio Rugerri, CEO of the company IGI Poseidon SA, took part in the energy forum as well and pointed out that the interconnector between Greece and Bulgaria IGB would be the first completed part of South Stream, the goal being to put it into operation in 2018. "Though small in size it will be an important project for the region as it will connect not only Greece and Bulgaria, but will also expand to the existing network in Romania and the evolving one in Serbia."

The discussion considered the result of the meeting in Sofia last week between Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev who supported the restart of the Nabucco project and its unification with the TAP pipeline. Michael Hoffman, however, rejected this possibility, saying, "The duration of gas supply contracts is 25 years, so I see no real chance of this happening."

Tags: PoliticsEnergyPrivatizationGas pipelineTAPAthens Energy Forum 2015Panagiotis Lafazanis
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