While Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is reaching out for closer relations, a Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will lessen reliance on Russia for gas supplies, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
That came out of his meeting Alternative Foreign Minister Georgios Katrougalos at the first US-Greece Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. as Tsipras is simultaneously wooing the United States and Russia on different fronts and promising to work with both.
While the previously anti-US Tsipras said he would rid Greece of any American military presence and take Greece out of NATO, he is reportedly considering allowing an expanded US military force and moved to get the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into the defense alliance as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans – after Greece booted two Russian diplomats for allegedly trying to undermine the deal.
Energy has become a key player in geo-political relations as well, with TAP and Greece wanting to work with Cyprus, Israel and Egypt to bring gas to the European Union and Pompeo said the Adriatic line was especially important.
“Diversification of Greece's energy flow through TAP will reduce dependence of southern Europe on Russian gas. In addition to Greece, Bulgaria will be also less dependent on Russia,” he said.
Alexis Tsipras said at a press conference following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Greece sees the possibility of Russian gas supplies to Europe via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to include Russia, opposing US interests.
Last summer, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Russia’s Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, stated the company allowed the use of the TAP gas pipeline capacity when implementing the Poseidon project, which involves the organization of a southern route for the supply of Russian gas through Greece to Italy.
TAP, along with TANAP, is a part of Southern Gas Corridor project. The project envisages transportation of gas from Azerbaijani Shah Deniz-2 gas field to Greece and southern Italy across the Adriatic Sea through Greece and Albania, and involves designing, construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline, said the Azer News.
Approximately 82 percent of the TAP project, including engineering, procurement and construction, was implemented. On May 29, Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, hosted the launch ceremony of the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor project.
The Intergovernmental Agreement on the TAP project was signed by Albania, Italy and Greece in February 2013. The 878-kilometer-long (545.46 miles) TAP pipeline, which includes 550 kilometers (341.75 miles) through Greece connected to the TANAP on the Turkish-Greek border, will run through Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Italy’s south.
The 4.5-billio- euro ($5.09 billion) TAP pipeline is expected to be commissioned in 2020. The initial capacity of TAP will be 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Azerbaijan with the possibility of doubling it.