Dimitris Rapidis

On Monday March,12 the Greek PM Mr. Samaras had official meeting with the Vice President of Gazprom, Mr. Alexei Miller, with major issue the firm expression of the company for the participation in the contest for the privatization of the Greek Natural Gas Company. The contest runs until April, 12 and there are growing expectations from the Russian side that the deal will be reached and Gazprom will be the next supplier of natural gas in Greece, starting from 2016.

Mr. Miller also expressed his willingness and purpose to invest in the infrastructure network of natural gas so that supply can be broadened in all regions of Greece. In addition to that, Mr. Miller also underlined the purpose of Gazprom, and of the Russian Federation, to prepare and coordinate research over the natural resources with emphasis on natural gas in the water territory being situated in the south of Crete, where preliminary estimations and studies talk about a widely resourceful area with great potential.

It is broadly said that one of the major concerns of the Greek government -and of the European Union as well- has to do with the EU framework for the protection of competitiveness and the combat of monopoly in the energy field, as it is believed that Gazprom will endeavor to monopolize any perspective interest dealing with the natural resources of Greece. On a similar view, the US are equally pressing toward the same “protective” direction, as there is no doubt that a potential investmet from Gazprom would definitely be against the interest of the US, not only in Greece, but generally in the entire region of the Mediterranean basin. In this respect, we should also take into account the firm interest of the Russians toward Cyprus and its resourceful areas, and the leverage the newly-elected President of the island Mr. Anastasiadis has given to the Russian factor and the possible “help” Moscow can provide to Nicosia now that economic conditions and prosperity are reaching a deadlock.

To my point of view, I definitely believe that the interest of Gazprom over Greece’s energy future is inextricably interwoven with the entire instability inside the European Union. In fact, Gazprom is behaving with a clearly clever mindset as it is more than obvious that what Greece and the EU especially are missing to understand is that the road to growth stems from vast investment plans and controlled risk. And this is what Gazprom and Kremlin fully acknowledge and understand. The EU is incapable of acting as a federation and unity and promote development inside its territories, and this is something we should deal with. Greece is in a terrible position, mainly due to the lack of political determination, and not due to its economic conditions. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for Gazprom to move ahead and press for achieving such a well-designed plan, that will be extremely beneficial for its commercial interests, as well as for the geopolitical role Kremlin re-ignites in Southern Europe, not outside, but inside the EU.

Whether this is win-win situation or not, I believe it is too early to estimate. Nonetheless, it is certain that it is another strike for EU’s cohesiveness that unveils the entire gamut of the Union’s unpreparedness and short-sightenedness. On the other side, Russia is meticulously preparing its maneuvers, that combine both commercial and political benefits.

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