Developments on Turkish Stream front expected this week

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s scheduled visit to St Petersburg at the end of this week for an economic forum is expected to coincide with the signing of an agreement formalizing Greek-Russian interest in the Greek segment of Turkish Stream, Russia’s latest proposal for natural gas supply to Europe from the south, via the Greek-Turkish border area.

According to sources, Greek and Russian officials are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding, perhaps even a joint political declaration, to make official Athens and Moscow’s intention to develop the pipeline project.

Although still just a theoretical plan, Turkish Stream has already provoked strong regional reaction. Russian officials seem to have recognized the additional problems caused by the negative reaction of many countries in the Balkan region, from where the Turkish Stream pipleine’s route would cross. The response in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) and Serbia has been particularly unfavorable. Also, the EU and US have not embraced the Russian plan.

Meanwhile, on another pipeline front in the region, the IGB interconnector concerning Greece and Bulgaria has run into further delays, once again prompted by Bulgarian officials. Of course, it must be noted that the agreement being worked on by officials for this project would concern a far more advanced stage entailing finalization of financing details.

Certain sources believe Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis will travel to St Petersburg ahead of the Prime Minister to prepare the ground for the Greek-Russian pipeline agreement’s signing. However, pressing matters concerning the bailout talks could alter this plan.

The Greek delegation for the trip to St Petersburg will include a group of local businessmen, including Dimitris Copelouzos, who is scheduled to deliver a speech at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF – 2015), scheduled for June 18.