Athens, April 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
There was never an agreement for a EUR 3-5 billion advance payment to Greece from the profits of the “Greek pipeline” for natural gas, which is expected to be signed next week in Athens, spokesman of President Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said.
“No there was not”, Peskov replied when asked about the relevant article of Spiegel, while speaking live on the radio station Business FM, adding that President Putin “himself said at the press conference (with Premier Alexis Tsipras) that nobody asked for help”.
“It is natural that the issue of energy cooperation was discussed. It is natural that at the end of the summit talks it was agreed that, at expert level, there will be an examination of all issues related to cooperation in the energy sector, while Russia did not promise financial help, because no one asked for it”, Peskov said.
In the joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on April 8, President Putin had said that in the context of the development of joint energy projects “situations can occur, which will not only allow us to provide loans for the plans we discussed together today, but also to resolve credit relationship issues in a wider context duting the implementation of these plans”, adding immediately after that:
“If, say, we are going to realise a big project that will bring income to Greece, this means that from these revenues there can be repayments of those loans, which we mentioned today in passing. The reason for is not to provide help, but for cooperation, including in the financial sector, in connection with certain major projects”.
In regard to the planned “Greek pipeline”, government sources in Moscow had reported during the visit that “the possibility of the funding of a major project has been ensured, always within the EU institutional framework. The construction cost is estimated at EUR 2 billion, while the operation of the pipeline is expected to begin at 1/1/2019”, and that it will bring profits for the Greek State of in the region of EUR 500 million per year from transit fees alone.
The publication of Spiegel
The German magazine “Der Spiegel” had mentioned earlier, citing a member of SYRIZA, which does not name, that Greece is ready to sign, even Tuesday, with Russia an agreement on the natural gas which could bring EUR 3-5 billion in state coffers.
During the visit that took place earlier this month in Moscow, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed interest in participating in a pipeline that will bring Russian gas to Europe via Turkey and Greece.
Under the proposed agreement, Greece will receive advance funds from Russia for expected future profits associated with this pipeline. The Greek Energy Minister said last week that Athens will repay Moscow after 2019, when the operation of the pipeline is expected to start.
Greek government officials were not immediately available to comment on the publication of Spiegel, Reuters notes.
The Spiegel, citing the member of SYRIZA, says the Russian agreement could be signed Tuesday and bring a front payment of between 3 and 5 billion euro. The same official said, according to Spiegel, that the agreement could “turn the page” for Greece”.
Schaeuble: It wouldn’t solve the Greek problem
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that he would be delighted if he heard the news that Greece was ready to sign an energy agreement with Russia, adding however, that this will not solve the country’s problems, he says to Reuters.
“I would be delighted for Greece with such a perspective, but I do not think that it would solve the problem the country is facing to fulfill the obligations of the memorandum”, he said on the sidelines of the meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington.