* Natural gas, electricity interconnectors and RES high priority in relations *
By Costis Stambolis
Although there are divergent views by Greek politicians and media as to the usefulness of the visit to Greece last week by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the first such visit in more than 60 years, it seems that overall and in spite of certain inevitable tensions, it brought the two sides closer together at a political and economic level.
On the political side, Greece had the opportunity to state its positions on a number of contentious issues, including the delineation of sea boundaries in the Aegean on the basis of the provisions foreseen by the UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on refuges and on maritime and human security in the Aegean along the lines already agreed in the context of the 2015 agreement between Turkey and the EU, and of course on the infallibility of the Lausanne Agreement which defines the borders between Greece and Turkey and remains a pillar of the two countries’ relationship on several counts.
The visit also provided Erdogan the opportunity to show similar intentions and at the same time demonstrate the necessary prudence, thus reinforcing his statesman status back home. Although expansionist in his rhetoric when dealing with such issues as the Lausanne Agreement, which according to Erdogan needs to be updated to conform to Turkey’s fresh view of the world, the Turkish President understands that Greece can play a role in the Euro-Turkish puzzle. Since at a time when many European countries do not want Turkey – and many of them have stated that in no uncertain terms – Greece opposes an all-out rupture in relations and has consistently said that the link between the EU and Turkey should be preserved, even if it seems that the country’s full integration into the bloc is tortuous, to say the least. In this sense, Erdogan’s diplomatic gains from his visit to
Trade links indicative of bilateral climate
In this context,
Top on the bilateral energy agenda during Erdogan’s meetings with the Greek government was the growing cooperation on natural gas, as
By the end of 2019, when the big TANAP-TAP pipeline system will be completed,
In addition to its gas link to
Another area of successful Greek-Turkish cooperation is that of trading in oil products and services as Turkey, in spite of an extended refining sector, remains short on gasoline and diesel and hence imports sizeable quantities from Greece’s two leading refining groups, Hellenic Petroleum and Motoroil.
Currently, Greek refiners export some 8.0 million tons per year primarily to SE Europe and north Africa, which corresponds to some 60% of their total production, with
It would be an omission not to mention the growing cooperation between the two countries in the area of renewable energy sources (RES), where the emphasis so far has been on wind energy and solar photovoltaics.
A number of Greek companies have been investing in
On the surface, it may appear that
Costis Stambolis is a Financial Mirror correspondent, based in