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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-31

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece, Italy sign protocol for natgas pipeline, construction to begin in June '08
  • [02] Papandreou addresses Euro-parliament Socialist Group
  • [03] Gov't rejects Turkish protest of east Med eco zone

  • [01] Greece, Italy sign protocol for natgas pipeline, construction to begin in June '08

    Construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece with Italy is due begin in June 2008, with completion slated for 2011, Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas announced on Wednesday, speaking at the ceremony during which he and Italian Minister of Productive activities Pierluigi Bersani signed the pipeline's support protocol.

    Bersani was also received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the latter's Maximos Mansion office on Wednesday.

    The agreement also provides for exclusion of the underwater section of the pipeline from access to third parties in order, according to Sioufas, to ensure the viability of the investment, pending approval of the European Commission, which is expected in April, and will be in effect for 25 years.

    The Greek-Italian pipeline comprises a supplement to the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline, and aims at the transport of natural gas from the Caspian region to the west via Turkey and Greece. The Greek-Turkish pipeline, currently under construction, is expected to start operating this summer, and will have a transport capacity of 11.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually. The Greek-Italian pipeline, in turn, will be able to transport 8-8.8 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year.

    The difference between the two quantities will be funnelled to the Greek market, as well as Albania and FYROM, according to Sioufas, while Bulgaria has also recently expressed interest in natural gas supply via Greece.

    The land-based section of the Greek-Italian pipeline (Komotini-Thesprotia) will have a length of 590 kilometres, and the completion cost is estimated at more than 600 million euros, while the underwater section (Thesprotia-Otranto) will stretch over 217 kilometres under water in length and the cost is estimated at 300 million euros. In other words, the total investment will exceed one billion euros, part of which will be funded under the EU's 4th Community Support Framework (CSF).

    Sioufas said the pipeline will strengthen the position of Greece's DE.PA (Public Natural Gas Corporation) and the Italian Edison's on the market of the wider region, creating the conditions for supplying Central and western Macedonia and Epirus with natural gas. It will also boost energy security and render Greece a natural gas transit hub.

    For Greece, he added, the Greek-Turkish pipeline will comprise the third source of natural gas supply, after the central pipeline from Bulgaria which transports Russian natural gas, and the installations at Revythoussa, where liquefied natural gas is imported from Algeria. Bersani stressed that the accord was &quot;good news&quot; for the general framework of economic relations between Greece and Italy, and he invited Sioufas to visit Rome for talks on matters concerning SMEs, in addition to energy issues. Asked where the natural gas to be carried along the pipeline would originate from, Sioufas said the two companies (DEPA and Edison) would cooperate on this matter and make every effort to ensure the pipeline's supply, while Bersani said the pipeline &quot;could also mark a diversification of supply sources.&quot; The two ministers agreed that relevant studies on doubling the transport capacity of the underwater power grid connection between the two countries would begin immediately.

    Caption: Prime Minister Pierluigi Bersani, left, meets with Italian Minister Pierluigi Bersani at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Wednesday, 31 January 2007. ANA-MPA photo / G. Antoniou.

    [02] Papandreou addresses Euro-parliament Socialist Group

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou on Wednesday addressed the Socialist Grouping at the European Parliament in Brussels, while he is scheduled to meet with Group president Martin Schulz, the president of the Party of European Socialists (PES) Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Euro-parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering as well as Javier Solana, the Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

    Meanwhile, PASOK's parliamentary council convened on Tuesday to focus on the party's actions in all sectors and especially on the issue of education. On this issue, the main opposition party is expected to present its own proposal-framework on revision of Article 16 of the Constitution during the vote in parliament early in March. Concerning the overall programme of the party, this is expected to be presented to Papandreou and PASOK secretary Nikos Athanassakis before a debate takes place at the political council level which, in turn, will make proposals it to the party's national council, but not before Feb. 20.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Papandreou.

    [03] Gov't rejects Turkish protest of east Med eco zone

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday rejected Turkish objections to an agreement for an 'exclusive economic zone' between Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt, stressing that Turkey could not "question agreements between sovereign states".

    He was commenting on an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry objecting to the agreement, under which Cyprus intends to proceed with the exploration and exploitation of possible fossil fuel reserves in the exclusive economic zone, on the grounds that it did not take into account the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus.

    According to Koumoutsakos, the positions expressed by Ankara are "in flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of international law, national sovereignty and the rights of independent nations to proceed with agreements with each other, especially since this cooperation is in accordance with international law, international rules and has a peaceful purpose, which is the economic development of the region," he said.

    "The Turkish foreign ministry's response was not at all productive in a very serious discussion, whose final strategic goal is stability, peaceful good-neighbourly relations and the economic growth of the southeast Mediterranean region," he added.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Koumoutsakos.


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