Wednesday, June 19 2024

Greece seeking role in energy strategy

Greece seeking role in energy strategy

Greece is looking to have an enhanced geopolitical presence in the wider region given the European Union’s commitment to gradually end its dependency on Russian oil and natural gas.

Despite the country’s, and the public’s, sometimes ambivalent stance toward the West and Russia, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has decided not just to follow the West’s response to Russia without footnotes, ifs or buts, but to be among the leading voices.

Mitsotakis’ strategic choice will also affect domestic politics as it is said he will use it to demarcate his ruling party from opposition SYRIZA in the coming electoral fight, either late this year or in 2023.

In trying to lessen dependence on Russian energy sources, the government is focusing on ensuring the uninterrupted supply of such sources while containing, to the extent that it can, the rise in costs to households and businesses. It also aims to make Greece an energy hub for the Balkans and the rest of Europe.

This latter aim will depend a lot on the US approach to the energy question. While declaring itself against the EastMed gas pipeline project, Washington believes, as Kathimerini understands, that both Greece and Turkey can ensure the uninterrupted supply of energy to Europe through the existing Trans Adriatic Pipeline bringing natural gas from Azerbaijan to Western Europe through Turkey, Greece and Albania, but also through liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Greece, with its LNG terminal on the islet of Revithoussa and three more terminals under development, can help with the regasification of LNG – turning it back into a gas state by heating it. Also, a large part of the LNG-carrying shipping fleet is Greek-owned. Finally, the planned electricity connection between Egypt and Greece, with the former’s high potential for solar energy production, will be another way to ensure European energy independence from Russia.

Washington does not prioritize solving all the contentious issues between Greece and Turkey, but favors a calm enough environment that will allow both countries to play their role in aiding Europe’s strategic aim.

While unreservedly backing up sanctions against Russia, Greece also believes that they should not harm the European Union more than Russia. With this in mind, it must soon take a stance in the intra-EU conflict on whether to impose an immediate total embargo on Russian oil.