ATHENS – Greece’s government, which had been cozying up to Moscow, is worried a planned pipeline from Russia to the European Union will take a detour around Greece.
Greek officials have been in talks with Russian political and energy officials about being a host country for the so-called TurkStream pipeline that would be called GreekStream only in Greece.
Construction of the Gazprom-backed project will start by the end of the month but diplomatic sources told the newspaper Kathimerini that Greek government was concerned Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking at ways to get around Greece.
During a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on June 3, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico put forward a plan that would see his country, plus another three European states, connected to the Russia-Turkey pipeline that will carry gas all the way to the Greek-Turkish border.
According to Fico’s plan, the pipeline would not cross Greek territory but transfer gas to Central Europe through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
Fico’s proposal also appeared to be welcome by Hungary – which just signed a declaration backing a plan to take it through Greece. That was also signed by Serbia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Putin is said to be awaiting approval from the European Commission although he has the leverage of being the EU’s biggest energy supplier. Reports Greece had been closing on a deal were said to be government poppycock.
Putin late last year announced TurkStream to replace the ditched South Stream pipeline. Analysts have called attention to a Washington warning against the construction of a pipeline bypassing Ukraine, a strategic US ally.