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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] U.S. on South Stream deal
  • [02] Rhodes top holiday destination

  • [01] U.S. on South Stream deal

    The U.S. government was in no way displeased by the agreement for Greece's participation in the South Stream natural gas pipeline with Russia, of which Washington had been promptly informed, but was concerned over an efficient European energy market. This was stated by <font color="#FFFFFF" size="2" face="Verdana">US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza on Thursday, during a detailed briefing at the U.S. State Department. Bryza added that Washington was happy for as many pipelines to pass through Greek territory as Greece desired but stressed Washington's view that priority must go to the construction of the TGI pipeline that will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Greece and from there, ultimately to Italy. The U.S. official also noted that the supply of 80 percent of natural gas consumed by Greece by one company, Russia's Gazprom, laid the country open to the dangers of depending on a monopoly. Bryza added that Washington's primary concern was an efficient European energy market and that Greece was just one part of the equation - an important section but simply a point on the map. Noting that national security was best served from an economic standpoint when markets operated "efficiently" - and that the most important strategic markets for the U.S. were those of Europe - Bryza stressed that the European market was currently "completely dysfunctional". He also pointed out that Gazprom "is currently buying natural gas in central Asia for one third of the price for which it was sold to Europe" and that European consumers were forced to pay the price for this "power of monopoly". Underlining that the U.S. had backed the TGI and interceded directly to persuade Azerbaijan's leadership to go through with the project, Bryza said in response to other questions that South Stream was designed to undermine competition and "derail" the TGI and Nabucco pipelines. In the event that this happened, the U.S. would be not be harmed at all and Azerbaijan was not obliged to deploy its gas, he added, while there were plenty of alternative options to help allies that wished to diversify their sources of natural gas. Among these he listed the Nabucco and LNG pipelines, noting that these could pass through Romania and Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Poland and other countries. Washington had many options but would prefer to stick with its original choices, and had thought that it was supporting the policy of the Greek government, which it supported as a good ally, Bryza said.

    Replying to questions, the U.S. official denied that Greece was seen as "playing some sort of game" but stressed Washington's disagreement with Athens' view on the specific issue. The U.S. view was that more pipelines would not increase energy security, as the Greek government supported, but energy security would arise when the various pipelines led to different sources of supply.

    Washington's goal was to have natural gas from the Caspian Sea transported to international markets, in addition to Russian oil. In this case, Greece would be in a much stronger position to negotiate with its main supplier, Gazprom, Bryza added.

    He especially emphasised the importance of giving priority to the construction of the TGI. While conceding that Greece was clearly in favour of constructing the TGI, he expressed doubts about whether "all sides" in Greece appreciated the importance of which pipeline arrived in the market first and warned against delays.

    Bryza also stressed Greece could achieve its goal of becoming an important energy hub by completing the TGI and could easily have both the South Stream and the TGI, provided that the TGI was completed first. Otherwise, he added, it might well end up with only the South Stream.

    Caption:ANA-MPA/EPA file photo of the installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the village of Boyarka, close to Kiev, Ukraine. EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

    [02] Rhodes top holiday destination

    The island of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean has been voted the top tourist destination in Europe and the fifth-best in the world, according to a survey carried out by the Internet-based travel service TripAdvisor.

    Experts in the tourism sector said that the current economic crisis, in spite of rising fuel prices, concerns about the repercussions on the environment, has not dampened demand for travel, which remains popular and especially within Europe.

    The next most popular destination after Rhodes is the city of Salzburg in Austria, while the top two destinations worldwide were Milford Sound and Queenstown in New Zealand.

    TripAdvisors has six million registered users and receives about 25 million visits to its website every month.

    Caption:ANA-MPA view of the Medieval Castle in Rhodes


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