Tsipras: Russian advance fee for ‘Turkish Stream’ likely in six months

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, confirming widespread reports that emerged several days ago of a possible advance payment of between three billion and five billion euros for Greece from Russia in exchange for Athens’s support of “Turkish Stream” – Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline proposal for supply to the EU from Europe’s south, via the Greek-Turkish border region – last night noted that the payment could be made later this year, in six months.

The Prime Minister, who offered comments to the “Ston Eniko” program hosted by long-serving journalist Nikos Hatzinikolaou, described the recent negotiations with Russia as extremely successful.

Various media reports, citing unnamed government leaks, emerged last week, claiming an announcement of an advance payment for Greece, for the country’s prospective financial gains through its involvement in the Greek segment of “Turkish Stream”, estimated at between 100 million and 150 million euros per year, was going to be made last week, during Russian Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller’s visit to Athens. But no deal was announced.

“Will it be a bad development if this did not happen now, but happens in six months?” Tsipras questioned during last night’s television interview, countering last week’s local media fallout that condemned the build-up and failure of a deal’s announcement as a “fiasco”.

Elaborating on “Greek Stream”, as the local segment of “Turkish Stream” has been dubbed, Tsipras noted its development would establish Greece as a regional energy hub, while the country would benefit from lower-priced natural gas and, subsequently, cheaper electricity production from power utility PPC. Natural gas trading opportunities would also be presented by the pipeline’s development, the Greek Prime Minister added.

Contrary to media reports presenting Greece’s seemingly warming ties with Russia as a worrying development for the EU, Tsipras, during last night’s television interview, noted that Europe has “responded respectfully, not nervously.” Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had informed him that the US would make a counterproposal, Tsipras added.

The EU and USA have not embraced “Turkish Stream”, a rival proposal to the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) project for Azeri natural gas supply to Europe, being developed as part of a wider effort by the EU to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supply.

Tsipras, during last night’s comments, noted that major investment opportunities exist in energy and tourism, adding that the government supports these opportunities as there can be no other way towards economic growth.