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US wants Greece to stick to the 'right' pipeline

A US envoy visiting Greece has urged the government in Athens to stick to a US-favored pipeline rather than supporting a rival one pushed by Russia. But diversification issues are not what matter to Greece most now.

The US state Department's special envoy for energy affair, Amos Hochstein, said in Greece on Friday that he had debated energy resources and supply safety issues with authorities in Athens, noting there had been more agreement than disagreement.

But matters turned more difficult when talks touched upon the Turkish Stream pipeline project that officials in Greece had been supporting for quite a while. Turkish Stream is to bring Russian gas to Europe via Greece, and Greece as a transit country has seen Moscow willing to consider paying in advance for a pipeline that has still to materialize.

But the US envoy encouraged Greek officials to focus on the Western-backed Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that is to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe by crossing through Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.

Own axe to grind

"Turkish Stream doesn't exist," Hochstein commented. "So let's put that to the side and wait until there's some movement on that and see if that's relevant or not relevant."

The US envoy argued the TAP project would "help with price, reliability of supply and take the political element out of the supply system," failing to mention that for Greece that would only replace some pressures with others.

Hence a statement made by Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis after the talks came as no big surprise.

"We're backing Turkish Stream, because we think it'll be useful for our country."

hg/pad (Reuters, AP)

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