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Dear Alexis: We've lost our country!

As SYRIZA establishes “space agencies” and touts its investigation into the “Novartis scandal,” Greece’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are endangered. An open letter to Alexis Tsipras.

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Dear “patriot” Alexis,
“If today there is something our homeland needs from all of us, from every last Greek, it is a modern, decisive, unshakable patriotism.”
You uttered these words a few days ago. Of course, quotations can’t be added to verbal speech, otherwise I am sure you would have added them to those last three words.
I have been impressed by your “determination” for three years now, like for instance when you so eloquently said in just four words “go back Mrs. Merkel”! I have been impressed by how “tenacious” you are (but only when you have the Greek people in opposition to you). I have been impressed by how “patriotic” you have been when you make reference to an “all-purpose name for Macedonia,” as if you are referring to flour.
This is no accident of course, when considering that the head of strategic planning in the prime minister’s office is a man who has said “[having a] career is like cholera.” I do not know if this is the same person who authored the despicable press release which was signed, “Basement tenants.” In case you weren’t aware, such press releases result in the ridicule of our country and its image internationally.
How much respect can someone have for a neighboring country whose prime minister is self-trolled through the press releases issued by his own office? Of course, one can say that this is the least of your problems. The “feats” of our country — the embarrassments, that is — have become known outside our borders. A colleague of mine at the office where I work in Germany was telling me that he would like to visit “Exarsia” as a tourist, because he has heard that it is a “must” to go there. He was telling me that he heard that if someone gets into a car accident in Exarchia Square and calls the police, they will be told to take the car, go further down, and to call back once again. Entire regions of Athens are “no-go” zones, while at night police stations are transformed into fortresses and the surrounding streets are closed off, in order to protect the officers themselves.
 
You know Alexis, it really is not a good look for you when your own party’s newspaper publishes the headline “The Right Against the Western World” on the same day that the Novartis prosecutions began. An article which chastises the right for “favoring Russian policy” (!!) does not prepare us for good things to come, but instead, it lays the groundwork to impress the leader of the United States, the same leader for whom you once said “I hope we will not face this evil.” The current president of the United States who has not launched invaded or declared war against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, unlike his Nobel Prize-winning predecessor.
I do not know if you heard the news, Alexis, but we are losing our country, while you are attempting to imprison half of the opposition parties for scandals and while you are trying to recreate the achievements of Antonis Samaras in the case of Golden Dawn and the achievements of Constantine Mitsotakis against PASOK in 1989, both of which occurred with your party’s assistance.
For a month, Turkish vessels have closed off an area around the islet of Imia, not allowing a single Greek boat to enter the area. This served as the prelude for the attack on a Greek coast guard vessel which followed. As things stand right now, this incident does not signify the end but rather the beginning of further great travails for Greece, and there is no better time than now for our country’s enemies. We concede islands, relinquish names, abandon maritime waters, while the fire sale of our public assets is nearly complete. Our public wealth is in foreign hands, while our private wealth in the hands of the banks to later be auctioned off. Just as our wealth has shrunk, so has the time for our territory and sovereignty to shrink as well.
A country that does not have enough money to pay to upgrade or to maintain its military equipment is doomed to destruction. This is the fate of every bankrupt country historically. Sooner or later, it collapses. And the most tragic thing of all is that in all these cases, there have always been useful idiots that have led their country to destruction. I do not mean you, of course, Alexis. You and your staff there at the Maximou Mansion are people with remarkable wisdom, highly fluent speakers of English, and great diplomats, just like the excellent mayor who talks about renaming the airport, who surely is not revealing secret, under-the-table deals, but is merely speaking for himself…
This is the country which proceeds barefoot and ragged, soon to be stripped of military and defense equipment while at the same time it is launching a national space agency! What a joke! The head of this agency, the one with the Arab-owned satellites, is the government minister who traveled along with the lawyer Mr. Artemiou, the one who specializes in offshore accounts, to distant Venezuela prior to the elections, surely not to purchase peppers and beans from the supermarket.
In closing this letter, Alexis, I will ask for a personal favor. Tell that government minister of yours, the one who coordinates your government’s supposed body of work, to round up that revocable political appointee of yours, the one from Commonview, and tell him to stop threatening me over the internet for exposing his reappointment, as I have already informed the Electronic Crimes Unit of the Greek police.
Of course, you will say that you represent the governing political party, the all-powerful state, while I am a simple citizen. How could I possibly fight back? You have “European Institutes” in Florence to count how many television stations can broadcast in a banana republic, and the police acting in the role of a journalist, circulating edited videos to hide the true size of the protests. You release a news story and within a short time it is parroted in the media and on the internet, regardless of how truthful or objective it actually is. What can I, a solitary citizen, do alone?
Do you know something Alexis? I’m not alone. We are many, and while we may be impoverished, humiliated, or desperate, we are all thinking people. If you do not hear our voice, if we swallow our anger, if we do not appear to be in sorrow and if our pain is muted, that does not mean that they do not exist. And if what I am doing today is done by every citizen who does not wish to see injustice growing all around him, by the citizen who on a daily basis experiences mockery and lies, the citizen who feels desperate and afraid and as a stranger in his own country, then you will not have a platform to stand on and in the next election you will return to where you started, to the 2 percent and 3 percent share you had when you were struggling to enter parliament.
Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland.

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Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com:


Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom. Then came the 535 BCm (18.9 TCf) Leviathan in 2010 and the 850 BCm (30 TCf) Zohr discovery in offshore Egypt five years later and suddenly it seemed that an Eastern Mediterranean gas expansion is inevitable. Yet over the years, the operators of Leviathan have already allocated part of their total gas volumes to domestic power generating companies and most notably NEPCO, the Jordanian electric power company (1.6-2BCm per year). Egypt has been concentrating on meeting domestic needs and getting rid of LNG imports, moreover once it bounces back to gas exporter status in 2019, it will only use its own 2 LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku.

Thus, a pertinent question arises – whose gas would be used to fill the EastMed pipeline? If the pipeline starts in offshore Cyprus, then it would be logical to expect that Cyprus’ gas bounty would be somehow utilized. Yet Cyprus has been lagging behind Egypt and Israel in its offshore endeavors and so far lacks a clear-cut giant field to base its supply future on. The two discoveries appraised heretofore, the 6-8 TCf Calypso operated by ENI and the 4.5 TCf Aphrodite operated by Noble Energy, are not enough to support the construction of a relatively expensive gas pipeline – all the more so as Noble has signed a provisional deal to send Aphrodite gas to Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal, most likely by means of a subsea gas pipeline. If we are to judge the viability of the EastMed on the current situation, there is only Calypso and Israel to fill the pipeline, as Greece’s gas export plans are close to zero on the probability scale.

The subsea section from Cyprus’ offshore zone to the island of Crete lies in depths of 3km and is stretched across a seismically active zone. But there is even more – should Turkey claim rights on Cyprus’ offshore hydrocarbon deposits (in February 2018 it sent warships to scare away ENI’s drilling rig that was on its way to xxx), the project is all but dead. This is far from an implausible scenario as President Erdogan stated that Turkey would never allow for the extortion of natural resources in the East Mediterranean by means of excluding Ankara and Northern Cyprus. Cognizant of the risks inherent in an East Mediterranean gas pipeline, there has been no interest from oil and gas majors to participate in the project. This is worrying as the $7 billion are expected to be financed from private investors, of which there is a palpable dearth – despite the EU’s 35 million funding to promote what it sees as a Project of Common Interest.

Yet even for the European Union, the EastMed gas pipeline presents a bit of a headache as its commissioning would render the Southern Gas Corridor, comprising so far only of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) with a 10 BCm per year throughput capacity, irrelevant by creating a sort-of competitor. The price of the natural gas to be supplied via the EastMed pipeline might become the biggest obstacle of them all – if the cost of producing offshore Mediterranean gas turns out to be $4-5/MMBtu as expected, the addition of further transportation costs to it all would place EastMed supplied at the bottom range of European gas supply options (Russian gas supply is alleged to be profitable with price levels as low as $4/MMbtu). All this might change if any of the East Mediterranean countries were to discover a giant gas field, altering the economics of production or possibly even liquefaction.

In fact, 2019 will witness several key wells being drilled across Cyprus, Egypt and possibly even Israel. ExxonMobil’s testing of Block 10 in offshore Cyprus would largely point to the overall attractiveness of Cyprus as an oil and gas producing country – the drilling has already started, with results expected in Q1 2019. The ENI-operated Noor offshore field in Egypt, adjacent to Zohr, is a much hotter prospect with BP buying into it lately – most likely it will outshine all the other drilling sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, if a big discovery is confirmed, it would be most likely used for Egyptian purposes which run counter to the EastMed gas pipeline. Thus, EastMed’s only hope is that Israel 2nd international licensing round, results to be announced in July 2019, will elicit a couple of Leviathan-like finds that would make pipeline construction profitable. Until then, the prospects are rather bleak.

By Viktor Katona for Oilprice.com

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Turkey’s Threats against Greece

Erdogan believes that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered.

The Duran

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Authored by Debalina Ghoshal via The Gatestne Institute:


  • The one issue on which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his opposition are in “complete agreement” is the “conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered.”
  • “So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.” – Uzay Bulut, Turkish journalist.
  • Ankara’s ongoing challenges to Greek land and sea sovereignty are additional reasons to keep it from enjoying full acceptance in Europe and the rest of the West.

In April 2017, Turkish European Affairs Minister Omer Celik claimed in an interview that the Greek Aegean island of Agathonisi (pictured) was Turkish territory. (Image source: Hans-Heinrich Hoffmann/Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey’s “persistent policy of violating international law and breaching international rules and regulations” was called out in a November 14 letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres by Polly Ioannou, the deputy permanent representative of Cyprus to the UN.

Reproving Ankara for its repeated violations of Cypriot airspace and territorial waters, Ioannou wrote of Turkey’s policy:

“[it] is a constant threat to international peace and security, has a negative impact on regional stability, jeopardises the safety of international civil aviation, creates difficulties for air traffic over Cyprus and prevents the creation of an enabling environment in which to conduct the Cyprus peace process.”

The letter followed reports in August about Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the northeastern, central and southeastern parts of the Aegean Sea, and four instances of Turkey violating aviation norms by infringing on the Athens Flight Information Region (AFIR). Similar reports emerged in June of Turkey violating Greek AFIR by conducting unauthorized flights over the southern Aegean islets of Mavra, Levitha, Kinaros and Agathonisi.

In April 2017, Turkish European Affairs Minister Omer Celik claimed in an interview that Agathonisi was Turkish territory. A day earlier, a different Turkish minister announced that Turkey “would not allow Greece to establish a status of ‘fait accompli’ in the ‘disputed’ regions in the Aegean Sea.” In December 2017, Greek Deputy Minister of Shipping Nektarios Santonirios reportedly “presented a plan to populate a number of uninhabited eastern Aegean islands to deter Turkish claims to the land.”

According to a recent statement from Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“Greek-Turkish disputes over the Aegean continental shelf date back to November 1973, when the Turkish Government Gazette published a decision to grant the Turkish national petroleum company permits to conduct research in the Greek continental shelf west of Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean.

“Since then, the repeated Turkish attempts to violate Greece’s sovereign rights on the continental shelf have become a serious source of friction in the two countries’ bilateral relations, even bringing them close to war (1974, 1976, 1987).”

This friction has only increased with the authoritarian rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, particularly since, as Uzay Bulut notes:

There is one issue on which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are in complete agreement: The conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered. So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.

The only conflict on this issue between the two parties is in competing to prove which is more powerful and patriotic, and which possesses the courage to carry out the threat against Greece. While the CHP is accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party of enabling Greece to occupy Turkish lands, the AKP is attacking the CHP, Turkey’s founding party, for allowing Greece to take the islands through the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne, the 1932 Turkish-Italian Agreements, and the 1947 Paris Treaty, which recognized the islands of the Aegean as Greek territory.

This has been Turkish policy despite the fact that both Greece and Turkey have been members of NATO since 1952. Greece became a member of the European Union in 1981 — a status that Turkey has spent decades failing to achieve, mainly due to its human-rights violations.

Recently, EU and Turkish officials met in Brussels on November 30 to discuss an intelligence-sharing agreement between the European Police Service (Europol) and Ankara. Such an agreement is reportedly one of 72 requirements that Ankara would have to meet in order to receive visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.

Ankara’s ongoing challenges to Greek land and sea sovereignty are additional reasons to keep it from enjoying full acceptance in Europe and the rest of the West.

Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.

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Paranoid Turkey Claims “Greece, Israel, & Egypt Are Part Of Khashoggi’s Murder Plot”

A new Turkish narrative has been launched claiming that Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of the murder plot of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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Via Zerohedge


As we noted previouslythe conflict over gas in the eastern Mediterranean is intensifying.

The dispute concerns gas blocks, with Turkey furious about the energy cooperation of these Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt in the East Mediterranean Sea. While Turkish warships have been active, it appears Turkey is taking a new approach to this hybrid war.

As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports,a new Turkish narrative, based on paranoia and conspiracy theories, has been launched claiming that Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of the murder plot of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggipresumably in an effort to garner global opinion against their energy-hording neighbors.

This unbelievable allegation has been claimed by Erdogan’s close aide Yigit Bulut, who is famous for his delirium and ravings, during an appearance on state television of Turkey.

“Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of murder plot involving slain Saudi Arabia journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul,” Yigit Bulut said in TRT Television, where he is a frequent guest.

Enlisting the ‘good old traditional perception’ that Turkey is surrounded by enemies, KeepTalkingGreece notesthat Bulut said:

“a belt extending from Europe to Israel has always harbored hostility towards Turkey they never wanted Turks in this region. Europe even made Turks to fight unnecessary wars against Russia.”

It is worth noting that Russia and Turkey have come closer recently due to Syria, a cooperation sealed with armament sales to Ankara triggering the anger of US and the NATO of which Turkey is a member.

Bulut vowed that Turkey will continue oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean off-shore Cyprus.

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