Greece and Hungary have endorsed plans to build a new Russian gas pipeline.
Their foreign ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Peter Szijjarto, added their names to a political declaration on the ‘Turkish Stream’ project signed in Budapest yesterday, along with counterparts from Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey.
The declaration says they “expressed … support to create a commercially viable option of route and source diversification for delivering natural gas from the Republic of Turkey through the territories of our countries to the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe”.
It calls for the EU to help fund related infrastructure, claiming that the pipeline “would … make a significant contribution to the overall energy security of Europe and must therefore be a common responsibility of the European Union”.
It also voices interest in “interconnecting the natural gas infrastructures of our countries with European Union financial assistance”.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin late last year in Ankara said he will build Turkish Stream, a pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey, after the EU blocked construction of South Stream, a pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary.
He noted that Turkish Stream will terminate at a new gas trading hub on the Greek-Turkish border.
The European Commission’s new energy commissioner, Maros Sefcovic, has criticised Turkish Stream, which is seen in EU circles as a political project designed to weaken Ukraine and increase EU dependence on Russia.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visits Moscow today, ostensibly to negotiate an export deal, but with the real object of making a statement to his European creditors.
The Eurogroup of 19 member states, Greece’s principal creditor, is still locked in tense negotiations with Tsipras’ Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. On Friday, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said there was "still a long way to go" on Greek proposals for economic reforms.
Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner
Sources: EU Observer, Andolu Agency