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High Officials of the Greek Republic about Burgas-Alexandroupolis

15 Dec 2010 | | Excerpt from the speech of the President of the Greek Republic, Karolos Papoulias, at the Workshop «Russia – Greece – Cyprus: Political, Economic & Cultural Synergies. Present & Future»

The special significance of implementing the South Stream pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline during these difficult times was highlighted by the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, in his address which was read out by the Deputy Mayor of Kallithea and General Secretary of the Greek-Russian Federation, Mr Th. Psalidopoulos, at the start of the Workshop. «During these difficult times we must not only tangibly strengthen our bilateral relations, but also move forward and construct the South Stream and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipelines. This workshop has this symbolism, to confirm the excellent level of our relations and our common will to systemize and further deepen the strategic relationship between us. The rich Greek and Russian cultural heritage, the commitment to common struggles and the consistent support of the Russian people for the efforts to find a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue have founded our relationship on true friendship and mutual trust», concluded the President of the Republic.

Excerpt from the speech of the Greek Deputy Prime Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, at the Workshop «Russia – Greece – Cyprus: Political, Economic & Cultural Synergies. Present & Future»

«For the present Greek Government – and possibly for the previous one – and for the Government that set this process in motion in 1994, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is a primary objective. Unfortunately – you can of course search thoroughly to see the reasons, the developments and the history of the whole venture – but I fear that there is now only one obvious answer. It is difficult to dispute: every time political forces strongly influenced by the West are dominant in our neighboring Bulgaria, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline reaches an impasse. And this is because large oil companies that have a powerful influence on Western governments and particularly on the American government, use all their economic and political means to stop the pipeline being built. A condition of this pipeline is the active participation of Bulgaria and that is why we are at an impasse. I believe that this impasse is not insurmountable but we must make the decision to look from our viewpoint, both Russia and Greece, at what means of influence and pressure we have at our disposal so as to make the Bulgarian government realize that it is not in the interests of the Bulgarian people to pursue a policy that isolates a Balkan country from Greece as well as from Europe for interests that are private and overseas, transatlantic».

Excerpt from the speech of the Greek Deputy Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Yiannis Maniatis, at the Workshop «Russia – Greece – Cyprus: Political, Economic & Cultural Synergies. Present & Future»

«In the oil sector, as you well know, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is a strategic priority for the Government. During the meeting held in October between Minister Sergei Shmatko and the political leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPECA), it was agreed to strengthen the coordination of our work within the Joint Working Group on energy that has been formed for this purpose.

Only last month the European Union published a communication on the priorities for energy infrastructure in 2020, which refers to the need to ensure an uninterrupted supply of crude oil to landlocked EU member states that today depend on ordinary limited supply routes. The Commission, rightly in my opinion, emphasizes the importance of the diversification of oil supply and interconnected pipeline networks that could help curb the increase of oil transportation by sea, thus reducing environmental risks in the particularly sensitive and overcrowded Bosporus Straits.

The purpose of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is exactly this. Bulgaria’s concerns about the environmental impact of the project are well known. Yet we stress at every opportunity that the pipeline constitutes the greatest international intervention to reduce the risks of a maritime accident involving a tanker in the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, which would be catastrophic for the environment and tourism in the Northern Aegean Sea.

To promote the project, a bill has already been put before Parliament concerning the pipeline transit process, which defines the pipeline as a work of national priority and obvious public benefit. During the summer, our Ministry’s agencies approved the Preliminary Environmental Study. This has its own special significance, as one of the two EU member-states involved in the construction of the pipeline has now approved the preliminary study on the basis of all the strict European standards. I must also add that the final Environmental Study, recently submitted by the project company to competent agencies in Greece and Bulgaria, is now under evaluation. The jointly competent Environment Ministries in the two countries continue to promote at service level the implementation of the International ESPOO Convention, concerning the trans-boundary environmental licensing of the project.

Let me remind you that the cost of the pipeline on Greek soil will reach $1.5 billion and it will be assigned to Greek companies with a construction time of 2.5 years. Apart from the permanent income of 35-50 million euro that will be annually invested in Evros and Thrace, over 1,500 jobs will be created during construction, and over 150 permanent positions during operation.

I have already said that our goal is to further strengthen our relations with Russia in the energy sector. Russia, apart from being our partner in two large infrastructure projects, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis and the South Stream pipelines, is our main supplier of natural gas».

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