Greek energy minister in Moscow. Seeks a gas price cut and a lifting of the food ban caused by EU sanctions

Post originally appeared on Novinite.

Greece’s energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis is visiting Moscow on Monday in a bid to arrange more favourable terms for imports of Russian gas, according to a report in Germany’s Spiegel Online.

The visit comes at a time when Athens is scrambling to strike a deal with its creditors for the release of the next tranche of bailout funds in exchange for reforms to be implemented by June. It also comes less than two weeks before Greek Prime Minister’s Alexis Tsipras official visit to Moscow.

The list – which has already been submitted to the other members of the Eurogroup for a review  – would include measures to boost tax revenues, improve investment climate and make the judicial system more effective, government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said last week.

The Greek government hopes the measures, which also include privatization plans, would help raise some EUR 3 B for the heavily indebted country, which needs approval for its reforms list from its lenders to secure a EUR 7.2 B tranche of bailout funds.

Lafazanis will meet his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak as well as Alexei Miller, CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom, to discuss the lifting of a Russian embargo on imports of agricultural products from EU member Greece, according to Gazprom controls about 65-70 percent of Greece’s gas market.

Moscow banned food imports from the EU in summer 2014 in response to Western economic sanctions against Russia imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.

The Greek delegation, which includes Parliament Speaker Tanasis Petrakos, is also expected to discuss increased cooperation in the energy sector and encourage Russia to invest in underwater plots for oil exploration.

Recently Petrakos told Spiegel that Greece wants “to deepen its relations with Russia in the energy sector” with the two counties gaining significant mutual benefit from this.

The Greek government has submitted economic reforms to the Eurogroup of 19 Member States, and the reforms are being reviewed. The reform measures have to be implemented by June.


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