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New era in Greek-Turkish relations

» High Level Cooperation

Premier George Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed their will to take important steps towards the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, as the Turkish leader wrapped up an official visit to Athens on Saturday.
This was sealed with the opening session of the Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council and the signing of 21 agreements.
George Papandreou met with the chiefs of Turkish media, while Erdogan with the chiefs of the Greek newspapers.
The Greek premier told Turkish journalists that Erdogan’s visit heralds a new era in Greek-Turkish relations, further adding that the two sides had better overcome their differences. He also touched on economic cooperation between Athens and Ankara.

» “We have an agreement”

Twenty-one cooperation agreements in fields as diverse as technology and tourism were signed during the Turkey-Greece High Level Cooperation Council.
Ministers signed agreements boosting trade, investments and shipping and the two countries will hereby extend their cooperation in projects concerning infrastructure works and transnational transport networks.
Relations between the two countries in the field of immigration will be governed by a bilateral agreement which provides for readmission of illegal immigrant flows to Turkey and cooperation in the fight against organized crime, trafficking and civil protection.
Both sides agreed to improve tourism cooperation, aiming at increasing their market share in countries with economic potential such as China, as well as raising global awareness on matters of cultural heritage protection.

Special attention was given to education and synergies concerning research. Environment protection and joint ventures in energy projects including renewable energy sources and the existing Turkey- Greece-Italy gas pipeline were also sealed with respective deals.
In terms of strengthening bilateral ties,  a Joint Political Declaration on the establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council as well as a Protocol on regular political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries were signed.

» Signing the Olympic Truce

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded on Saturday his landmark visit to Athens by signing the Olympic Truce initiative.

At a brief ceremony in front of the imposing Panathenaic Stadium, Erdogan referred to the “great honour in signing my name in this book; to put my signature for a world of peace.”
Papandreou said that Turkey’s support for the idea sends out a clear message “by Turkey and Greece to the world,” adding that Greece will actively support Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

PM George Papandreou in Moscow

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in Moscow yesterday for a two-day working visit during which he will be holding meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss economic, commercial, military and political issues.
Speaking to the Itar-Tass news agency, ahead of the visit, George Papandreou said that the level of Greek-Russian relations is excellent while he described relations between the European Union and Russia as having strategic importance.
In another interview with the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, the premier stressed that Greece is expecting political support and not economic aid from the European Union.
 “Greece did not appeal for economic aid to the international community or to the European Union. Greece intends and is capable of solving its problems alone,” the prime minister said.
Referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, Papandreou said that its construction can begin in six months.

Black Sea Business Forum / Thessaloniki, 12 & 13 November 2009

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is a significant project with geopolitical, economic and energy importance, Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis noted, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Black Sea Business Forum in Thessaloniki, on November 12. 
The 3rd Union of Black Sea and Caspian Confederation of Enterprises (UBCCE) business forum, entitled “Seizing New Investment and Trade Opportunities in the Black Sea and Caspian in the Post Crisis Era,” is being held in Thessaloniki on November 12-13.

It is hosted by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises and the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece.
Addressing the event, Kouvelis stressed Greece’s commitment to the enhancement of co-operation with the European Union, through the establishment of “Black Sea Partnerships” within the “Black Sea Synergy” process, as well as through the new “Eastern Partnership” EU initiative.
Greece, he said, will have the chance to advance this perspective during the Greek Chairmanship of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which commences on June 1, 2010.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization

Greece – Italy Pipeline

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis held a meeting with his Italian counterpart Claudio Scajola yesterday (July 20) in Milan on the sidelines of the Economic and Financial Forum for the MediterraneanThe two ministers had talks on the Greek-Italian Interconnector “IGI POSEIDON,” – an underwater natural gas transmission pipeline connecting the shores of Epirus with the Apulia shore in Italy- with the view to examine whether the pipeline can also transport natural gas from Italy to Greece, along with its current direction from Greece to Italy. The Interconnector Greece – Italy is a component of the extensive Turkey – Greece – Italy pipeline system through which natural gas from the Caspian Region and Central Asia is transmitted to Italy and the rest of Western Europe. Greece’s participation in the ITGI Project establishes the country as a significant energy hub for the transit of natural gas to Europe.  Greek News Agenda: Greece-An Energy Hub; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece-Italy

Greece: Energy Matters

» Greece-Bulgaria-Romania agree on gas pipeline project

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  An agreement has been signed by the Greek gas company DEPA and Italian Edison with Bulgarian Energy Holding for the construction of a pipeline that would allow Bulgaria to import 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Caspian Sea region, through the ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) pipeline. The 160-km long pipeline, called Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), will extend from Komotini, northern Greece to Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. Its construction is estimated to cost €120 million with €45 million provided by the EU.  Greece and Romania agreed yesterday during a meeting in Bucharest, between Romanian Economy Minister Adriean Videanu and Greek Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, to promote and coordinate gas connections between Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.  “We want to treat the Greek-Bulgarian, Bulgarian-Romanian and Romanian-Hungarian pipelines as a single whole, as a single pipeline. Especially since all three separate pipelines are financed by the European Union,” Hatzidakis said adding that this project would enhance cooperation between the four countries and strengthen their geostrategic position.  Meanwhile, DESFA, Greece’s Natural Gas National System Manager, and Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding aimed at allowing the transportation of natural gas from Greece to Bulgaria from the Revithousa LNG terminal. Kathimerini daily: Greece – Bulgaria pipeline to raise security, lower gas prices

Greek FM Tours Caucasus

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Dora Bakoyannis began a tour of the Caucasus yesterday, specifically in Azerbaijan and Armenia. In statements after a number of meetings in Azerbaijan, the first stop of her tour, Bakoyannis said that her visit was aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations and contributing to a settlement of the long-lasting problem Nagorno-Karabakh problem, by intensifying efforts made for many years by OSCE.”  Bakoyannis said that they focused on energy cooperation and pipelines. “Our goal is to bring Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via the Turkey- Greece– Italy (TGI) pipeline,” the foreign minister stressed. Referring to the currently “frozen” Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has a direct impact on stability in southern Caucasus, Bakoyannis stressed that the Greek OSCE chairmanship is intensifying efforts that are underway for years for the solution of the thorny issue.Today the minister is in Armenia. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Statements of FM Bakoyannis following her meeting with her Azeri counterpart Mammadyarov (Baku, 2.7.09) & Statements following her meeting with her Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian (Yerevan, 3.7.2009); Bilateral Relations Greece-Azerbaijan& Greece-Armenia; Greek News Agenda: FM on Nagorno-Karabakh

South Stream Pipeline Underway

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The agreement for the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline will be signed today (May 15) between Gazprom and all other participants in the project, in the Russian resort city of Sochi on the shores of the Black Sea, Greek Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced.    Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA), a subsidiary of the Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), will be signing on behalf of Greece. The minister, who will also attend the signing ceremony, noted the particular importance placed on the South Stream agreement and Greece’s broader cooperation with Russia.   Greek News Agenda: Greece-Russia forge ties; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Energy Affairs

Greece: Gas Pipeline Agreement Signed

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The agreement on the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece with Bulgaria was signed on April 25 during an international energy conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, for Europe’s gas supplies security (Energy Summit 2009, Natural Gas for Europe, Security and Partnership). Addressing the event, Karamanlis spoke of Greece’s interest in a common European energy strategy, which will rely on environmentally friendly sources. He also stressed the importance for Greece to solidify and capitalise on its geostrategic position in South-eastern Europe regarding matters of energy supplies transport. Agreements such as the one with Bulgaria, bring Greece one step closer to its aim of adopting diversified energy solutions in terms of type, sources and routes of transport.

Greek Energy Diplomacy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) An agreement on the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece with Bulgaria is expected to be signed today in the presence of the Prime Minister who is currently attending the Energy Summit 2009, an international summit for Europe’s gas supplies security currently hosted in Sofia Bulgaria (April 24-25). Greece lays emphasis on conveying energy supplies from the east to the markets of the west, following the dictum of diversification in terms of energy type, sources and channels of transport.

Cooperation Greece – Azerbaijan in Energy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The issue of cooperation between Greece and Azerbaijan in the energy sector was the focus of discussions held on Tuesday February 17, between Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and visiting Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.  The aim of the Greek government was to expand the field of cooperation between the two countries, Karamanlis said. “Our country is the first European Union country to import natural gas from Azerbaijan,” the premier noted, pointing to the Interconnector Turkey – Greece – Italy pipeline carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey and Greece.  Greece has succeeded in becoming an energy hub for south-eastern Europe, a development that promotes the country’s interests and bilateral relations as well as the European strategy, Karamanlis said.  Later on Tuesday, at an event organised at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Karamanlis announced that “Greece is ready to sign agreements for natural gas supplies directly from Azerbaijan,” but also open to long-term cooperation and increased transactions between the two countries in other sectors besides energy.  ERT Online: Energy Cooperation; Greek News Agenda: Greece Turkey Interconnector; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece – Energy Policy of Greece

Greek – Azeri Energy Plans

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, arrived in Greece yesterday – the first Azeri president to officially visit the country – with a delegation of officials from the Azeri state gas company. Aliyev expressed confidence that this trip would inaugurate a new era in bilateral relations, and emphasised the issue of energy security, noting that Azerbaijan had done much to give the rest of the world access to its considerable energy resources. President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias received his counterpart on Monday and held talks on ways to further develop bilateral relations between the two nations. Aliyev also met with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and talks focused on the supply to Greece of 1 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year from Azerbaijan, as well as the signing of a four-party state agreement on the Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline. Greek and Azeri officials also signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on renewable energy sources. Greek News Agenda: Greece Turkey Interconnector; Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece – Energy Policy of Greece ; Centre for Renewable Energy Sources;

Foreign Affairs: Greece in Brussels

Bakoyannis @ EU Ministers Council
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis attended the Council of European Union Foreign Ministers which convened in Brussels on Monday and examined developments in the Middle East, energy security and the priorities of the EU Czech Presidency. Following the council meeting, Bakoyannis spoke to the press. On the question of the situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip, she said that the foreign ministers agreed that priority must be given to achieving immediate progress in handling the humanitarian tragedy being experienced by the inhabitants in Gaza. The minister expressed regret because substantive steps have not been taken in providing humanitarian aid and because the EU’s requests in this direction have been met with no response. “The lifting of the blockade and the opening of corridors is essential to enable the smooth flow of humanitarian aid from the international community,” she said. Asked about whether the recent crisis between Russia and Ukraine would affect the South Stream pipeline in any way, Bakoyannis gave a negative answer, saying that the policy of the Greek government on energy issues is a policy that “many other countries would like to have.”  EU Council – General Affairs and External Relations Councils: Press Releases – External Relations & General Affairs (Provisional Versions, 26.2.2009) 
FM Addresses European Policy Centre
Speaking at the local think tank Centre for European Policy Studies (CPES) in Brussels yesterday, Bakoyannis outlined Greece’s positions on several issues including the OSCE Chairmanship, the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), relations with Turkey, and the Cyprus issue. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of FM Dora Bakoyiannis at the European Policy Centre (Brussels); Athens News Agency: FM on FYROM, Turkey, Cyprus 

Greece: Energy Matters

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Development Minister Christos Folias in an interview with Reuters April 16 said, that Greece has agreed to join Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline which will take Siberian gas to southern Europe through Greece. The pipeline is a joint project by Gazprom and Italian ENI. Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary recently joint the South Stream project. Countering views seen this project as a competitor to the long-stalled Nabucco pipeline, the Minister said: “I don’t want to see them as athletes competing against each other. I would say they are complementing each other and are offering Europe multiple energy providers, which is good.”   Continue reading