Monday, September 21, 2009

Burgas-Alexandroupolis will not be renegotiated

Greek Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on September 10 criticized main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou statement on September 8 about the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. I’m surprised by the position of the leader of the opposition during his speech in Alexandroupolis that the intergovernmental agreement for Burgas-Alexandroupolis is beneficial only to the Russian side. Also his additional statement that implies that there might be a renegotiation of the issue, Hatzidakis said.

Greece, Russia and Bulgaria signed a memorandum of understanding on the 173-mile pipeline from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea in 2005. Initial capacity is estimated to reach 257 million barrels per year, with plans to increase that volume by more than 100 million barrels. The pipeline is to bypass Turkey’s Bosporus and Dardanelles by traversing an overland route. Hatzidakis said that it is impermissible that a party that wants to govern the country doubts a project that has high significance for Greece’s national interests. The citizens need from their politicians clear and responsible positions, the minister said. T

The ruling New Democracy party of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called a snap general election October 4. Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis earlier tried to downplay Bulgaria’s recent negative statements on Burgas-Alexandroupolis. The Greek foreign minister said the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline suits the interests of both Greece and Bulgaria. During the election campaign the new government of Bulgaria sent negative signals in reference to the Burgas-Alexandrou­polis oil pipeline. The Mayor of Burgas declared himself to be against, but in Greece as well as in Bulgaria, the tone of the election statements does not answer the need of realization of the signed agreements, Bakoyannis was quoted by the local media as saying. The impression that the new government of Bulgaria makes and the first signals in this area speak that the government is to follow the agreements on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which suit the interests of both Bulgaria and Greece, Bakoyannis added. Therefore, I think that the criterion, which will finally outweigh, will favor the society and our citizens, the Greek Foreign Minister emphasized. The realization of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project continues and will continue, Karamanlis said on September 7.

The pipeline will position Greece as a vital energy hub for the Balkans, he said. Karamanlis said the development of the pipeline would position his country as a Balkan energy hub. Several municipalities along the Black Sea, however, have raised objections to Burgas-Alexandrou­polis due to environmental concerns. Karamanlis also said the Greek emergence would be strengthened by the construction of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline, which will run through Turkish waters in the Black Sea to south European markets.

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