KOMOTINI – The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) is a crucial energy bridge that is important for Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans and for Europe, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed on Friday at the inauguration of the new natural gas pipeline connecting Komotini in northern Greece with Stara Zagora in southern Bulgaria.
“What we will soon be inaugurating here is not just a pipeline for transporting natural gas but a decisive energy bridge that will unite the geographical south with the north, initially bringing Greece closer with Bulgaria, Athens with Sofia,” Mitsotakis said, adding that the importance of the pipeline for the two countries was indicated by the presence in Komotini on Friday of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine already makes coordinated action by the countries on our continent more necessary than ever, against Moscow’s deliberate choice to convert natural resources into a lever for exerting political pressure, of raw blackmail. Our own answer must be to use energy as a means for mutual assistance, support and progress,” Mitsotakis said.
The pipeline, along with other energy infrastructure that is being planned, such as the interconnector pipelines to North Macedonia, Italy, will serve as a reliable natural gas transportation network for the markets of the Balkans, primarily, and then for Europe, he pointed out, helping to diversify energy sources and supply routes. This will increase energy supply security for all the connected countries and serve as a barrier to the artificial increase in energy prices that was eating into the budgets of households and enterprises.
In addition to an energy pipeline, Mitsotakis said, the IGB served to conduct values and the message of national security, Balkan solidarity, democratic cooperation and prosperity. “These are messages that acquire great importance in our troubled world. In a region where, unfortunately, an exception of historically unfounded aggressiveness remains still, though the reply to this comes from international reality and our own national readiness,” he added.
The Greek premier highlighted Petkov’s personal contribution to the swift completion of the project, calling this prescient given later developments, and the fact that Bulgaria’s access to Russian natural gas has effectively ceased.
“Coordination is not something automatic. It requires a dedicated leader, a dedicated friend that shares the same goal. This is what we proved in the last six months,” the Bulgarian premier said, on his part.
The IGB will connect Komotini with Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and carry natural gas from the TAP pipeline to the Bulgarian network. It can currently transport up to three billion cubic metres of gas, while there is an option to increase this to five billion cubic metres.
Started many years ago, the project takes on particular significance at the present time, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and highlights Greece’s important role, especially that of Thrace, in the energy sector and for boosting the energy security of countries in the region.