November 19, 2007

The first non-Russian supply of natural gas to Europe

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Greek counterpart, Costas Karamanlis, inaugurated a pipeline that will transport the first non-Russian supply of natural gas to Europe, a step expected to ease Russia's hold on Europe's energy supplies. The pipeline is also a symbol of a new era of economic cooperation between archrivals Turkey and Greece. "We are forming a bridge as an energy transit country. ... This pipeline will bring prosperity to the area, in all fields," Prime Minister Erdoğan said at a ceremony on a bridge over the Meriç (Evros in Greek) River that separates the two countries. "The Silk Road will also become an energy route linking East and West through Turkey," he added.

Erdoğan and Karamanlis shook hands in the middle of the bridge to inaugurate the 300-kilometer pipeline in a ceremony also attended by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Turkish-Greek pipeline, known as the Southern European Gas Ring Project, will provide the European Union with its first supply of gas from the Caspian region, bypassing Russia and the volatile Middle East. Launched in 2005, the pipeline will link the Greek and Turkish networks, and eventually carry gas from Azerbaijan to Italy.

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