PM, Putin talk gas prices

In Brus­sels, Sa­ma­ras urges Rus­sian pre­mier to re­duce en­ergy costs for Greece

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A meet­ing yes­ter­day be­tween Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, their first in more than two years, pre­sented the Greek leader with a chance to dis­cuss the high cost of nat­u­ral gas and to reaf­firm in­ter­est from Rus­sia in the sale of the Hel­lenic Rail­ways Or­ga­ni­za­tion (OSE) and Thes­sa­loniki port.

The two men met in Brus­sels af­ter Sa­ma­ras ad­dressed a Busi­ness Europe con­fer­ence and Putin had met with Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials.

The cost of nat­u­ral gas was a key item on the agenda of talks be­tween Sa­ma­ras and Putin as the meet­ing came amid dis­cus­sions be­tween Rus­sian gas gi­ant Gazprom and Greece’s Pub­lic Gas Cor­po­ra­tion (DEPA) about the same is­sue. The Greek gov­ern­ment is thought to have or­dered DEPA of­fi­cials to re­ject any price of more than $400 per 1,000 cu­bic me­ters.

Sources said that Putin did not make any bind­ing com­mit­ments on the mat­ter but in­di­cated that he would ex­am­ine the is­sue. In his com­ments af­ter the meet­ing, Sa­ma­ras drove home the point that Greece could not af­ford to keep pay­ing nat­u­ral gas prices that are about 30 per­cent above the Euro­pean av­er­age. “My coun­try is cur­rently com­ing out of a six-year re­ces­sion and low en­ergy prices from Rus­sia are cru­cial to our re­cov­ery,” he said.

On the is­sue of OSE, Putin made it known that there is Rus­sian in­ter­est and asked whether Athens would be able to pack­age the rail­ways and Thes­sa­loniki port into a sin­gle pri­va­ti­za­tion ten­der. The gov­ern­ment, how­ever, will be un­able to com­ply with this re­quest.

Sa­ma­ras ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to Putin to make an of­fi­cial visit to Greece soon.

Left­ist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras lashed out yes­ter­day at the im­po­si­tion of aus­ter­ity re­forms over the past few years, claim­ing that the troika-im­posed mea­sures vi­o­lated the Greek Con­sti­tu­tion. “For three years now, the Con­sti­tu­tion and the pro­ce­dures that it dic­tates have been vi­o­lated, on the or­ders of our lenders,” Tsipras said af­ter talks with Sotiris Ri­zos, the pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil of State, the coun­try’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court.

Tsipras sub­se­quently met with Eleni Raikou, the cap­i­tal’s top cor­rup­tion prose­cu­tor, for a brief­ing on the progress of the graft probes she is over­see­ing. “Who­ever stole pub­lic money must re­turn it,” he said.

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