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Who burnt Greece? Hybrid wars: Putin, the South Stream gas pipeline, and the U.S.

Was Greece and the Karamanlis government destabilized and the country set ablaze as part of a hybrid war in response to Greece’s interest in Russian gas pipelines?

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Since the U.S. launched in earnest its unipolar bid for world domination in 1990 and once the Gulf war was in full swing, energy geopolitics came to dominate U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the European Union. During the 2000s decade, Greece was burnt severely in what almost everyone now believes to have been a CIA destabilization process to break up the arrival of Russian energy pipelines. Twice the U.S. blocked the arrival of Russian gas in the Balkans, once in Greece and once in Bulgaria.

Fires in Greece

For over a decade, Greece experienced fires which always magically emerged in locations where there were many trees or bushes and spread like wildfire (pun intended), as they erupted, coincidentally, on days with high winds. Anyone who observed the reports saw that the allegations centered upon theory: individual mistakes (such as cigarettes thrown out of car windows, electricity pylons catching fire, and grandmothers cooking carelessly and burning their food), and that behind each disaster were property developers out to make a killing.

The theories worked in so far as there was property development up until 2010 but there was one nagging issue: certain fires occurred near the tops of mountains where access would only be possible by helicopter. So building a house on a mountain top where you couldn’t even get materials up there or access any built property was an absurd notion.

Each summer, the deficiencies of the state were revealed. Not enough water planes were available to put out the fires and not enough firefighters were in operation. But everyone knows that a fire that is started deliberately is doubly difficult to extinguish. Indeed, reports have frequently surfaced from firefighters themselves that they have discovered incendiary devices at the site of the blazes. So, when observing a fire in real time, one can see one wing of it extinguished and then another front immediately flares up at a great distance. The corporate-controlled media always has an excuse for everything, claiming nonsense such as a smoldering cinders flew a couple of miles and started another blaze in another area.

Satellite image of major fires raging in the Peloponnese region and in the Parnitha mountain range outside of Athens, 2007.

When basic logic evaporates, then anything else can fill the vacuum, and the purpose behind that is to hide who the real perpetrators are and to put forth any sort of justifications ensuring that no questions are asked and no proper investigations are ever called for. Those are the politics of those who are apologists of the system: they never seem to see any ulterior motives. But history always works against those who require lies to cover the truth. The truth will emerge, sooner rather than later.

In the 2000s under the Konstantinos Karamanlis regime, Greece made a turn towards energy dependence on Russia. Large public buildings such as hospitals and schools would be provided with Russian gas, in particular after Greek shipowners pioneered the delivery of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in container ships, leading to its easier delivery and storage. But another part of the proposals encompassed the securing of a Southern EU-Russian pipeline, like the one that exists in Northern Europe (i.e. Germany).

What happened next is a case study in hybrid warfare. Without going public, the Greek government was destabilized by massive “wildfires” up and down the breadth of the country, resulting in numerous fatalities. There was no way the South Stream pipeline would be allowed, on American dictats. Karamanlis’ former classmate Christos Zahopoulos allegedly jumped off a building as a result of an affair, an unheard-of reaction in Greek society. The fires reached right next to Karamanlis’ summer house in Rafina.

After his election in 2004, Karamanlis met Putin, who then followed up with a visit to Greece. A deal was cut between Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy to set up the South Stream Russian gas pipeline.

A U.S. lobbyist by the name of Matthew Bryza, who married Turkish journalist Zeyno Baran, was the first to write against the Putin-Karamanlis deal regarding the South Stream pipeline. After all, this was the pipeline that sidelined Turkey. It’s an irony of history that as dozens of Greeks were burnt alive in the Peloponnese region, Bryza was marrying in Constantinople in 2007, on the 23rd of August. This was the period when Turkey was steadfastly pro-American.

American shenanigans

U.S. officials met then-deputy foreign minister Giannis Valinakis in Rafina in March 2007. Bryza got straight to the point: “[o]ther European countries have objections to the policies of the Greek government in the energy sector. Independently from your desires you are pursuing the dependence of Europe to Russian gas and therefore to Russian interests,” he said.

Out of many of the meetings they had in New York City, one of the meetings which they had in the Waldorf Astoria in September 2008 was characteristic. “Every time I tried to raise our own agenda regarding the Greek-Turkish situation, the conversation was steered back to energy issue, while in another meeting progress in national issues was linked directly to energy, i.e. the cancellation of South Stream pipeline” Valinakis recalls. American desires came to the fore: “We cannot help on issues that you raise like the Greek-Turkish ones, when you are advancing Russian interests’ Bryza stated. “You need to help us so you have assurances that there is no tension in the Aegean.”

In response, Valinakis states that he answered that “[t]he energy issues are dealt with directly between (then-foreign minister) Dora Bakogianni and the prime minister. Greece follows an independent energy policy.” Even when Valinakis spoke about the start of discussions with Gaddafi regarding independent oil drilling areas south of Crete he received the following answer: “That is good. You can negotiate with countries like Libya and others but not with Russia.”

Valinakis publicly responded to Bryza in May 2008, “[w]ith a serious and responsible manner, the prime minister and the government are advancing and protecting national interests in the best way on all fronts. As an extension, whatever advice is received from whichever quarter only creates noise and does not aid in any way.”

Secret meeting in Brussels

In 2007, the newspaper To Vima revealed the plan of shocking the three prime ministers (those of Greece, Italy, and Bulgaria) in order to muddy the waters and throw a monkey wrench in the pipeline talks. The issue of phone calls being wiretapped and intercepted had just broken out as a scandal in Greece, and the Americans were following closely all the steps of the prime minister. The Greek government tried to take matters into its own hands so the agreement would not collapse. Thus, in June 2007 a secret meeting was held in Brussels by the prime ministers of the three aforementioned countries.

This meeting was to take place while another meeting with European heads of state was being held in Brussels, thus providing cover. Karamanlis, Sergei Stanishev and Mario Prodi had coordinated amongst themselves to come out of the meeting at the same time and all those that followed them knew about it. They all went to the offices of the Greek representatives and ironed out all the petty details regarding South Stream.

Three days later, from Constantinople came the announcement that Greece and Russia had decided to deepen their cooperation beyond the Burghas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. The fact Karamanlis and Putin shook hands for the South Stream pipeline resulted in total astonishment on the part of the Americans. We are told in the report from To Vima that the U.S. ambassador immediately departed Athens.

It’s worth noting that in the documents of the Trilateral Commission, decisions were made in the 1970s to control European output in manufactured goods and energy. Hence coal mining was shuttered in most northern European states and European countries became energy dependent on imports of both coal and gas. Greece is fortunate enough to have an abundance of lignite, which provides around 50 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Over a two-decade period, the EU has pushed for the full-scale privatization and closure of the lignite mines in order for Greece to become fully dependent on imports. In a strange irony, Germany cut a deal with Russia and now has two pipelines supplying it with gas and oil whilst southern Europe still has none. The U.S. obviously wanted to supply southern Europe via the gas and oil reserves of Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan with the TAP pipeline.

As written by To Vima in 2007, “[t]he game is big and our country is small. Putin’s rushing and the reactions of the Americans show that Greece is in the middle of a serious conflict. It is clear we need careful decisions and a flexible approach. Greece should come out on top and not become a target of revenge-mania as we all know how big powers react.”

Eyewitness account from Evia, 2009

At the time, I was on the Greek island of Evia, which is close to Athens. From there, one could observe the outbreak of fires both on the mainland and on the island. Indeed, mountainsides erupted in flames out of the blue in more than one location at the same time. Firefighters on the scene mentioned pyrotechnic fire mechanisms which were either thrown from the side of roads or dropped from above. An unlucky pilot attempting to extinguish the fires flew low and crashed, killing himself.

Greece is mountainous in many areas, and such areas are impossible to access by foot easily or by a vehicle of any sort. It is therefore illogical to believe that fires would start simultaneously on mountaintops in more than one location, making it impossible for firefighters or military planes to put them out. Such was the case with the fire that burnt the Parnitha mountain range just outside Athens.

Reaffirmation by Vyron Polydoras

An argument broke out regarding South Stream pipeline amongst the then-minister of public order of the Greek Parliament Vyron Polydoras and the then-U.S. ambassador Daniel Speckhard in 2009. Speckhard had called in the interior minister of Western Samoa and six Greek MPs for a meal. Amidst all this, he said: “Whats gotten into you with South Stream?” to which Polydoras replied: “[i]t would be an ideal route.”

Speckhard’s response was firm: “[i]t’s not allowed, you understand, this is a geopolitical issue.” In response, Polydoras stated: “[w]e will go against Russia? Why don’t you ask Chancellor Schroeder? No pipeline competes with another. Europe requires four and five pipelines and still will not be satisfied energy wise.”

Back to the Future

If one looks at the plans of the two pipelines above, one pipeline originating from Cyprus is independent of Turkey and the second pipeline represents the original pipeline to replace the Russian South Stream via Turkey. The Greek portion of TAP is almost completed, but the issue is whether it will ever come online via Turkey.

Now, the irony of the situation is that Russia has cut a deal to have South Stream pipelines going to Turkey from the Black Sea. Turkey’s geopolitical role has suddenly been raised and America is now engaged in a turf war with Turkey, not wanting to allow it any further geopolitical power. As if history repeats itself, the new Italian government – shades of Berlusconi – seems to be friendlier towards Russia. Berlusconi had been instrumental in the 2000s in agreeing to the South Stream pipeline and was probably ousted as a consequence of that, having faced scandals not unlike those repeatedly faced by the Karamanlis government.

Oil and gas appear to be America’s weapon of choice in its attempt to maintain its global role and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, when in reality almost all observers realize it is in full-scale retreat. The issue however remains: America does not appear able to supply southern Europe with energy, and two decades on, since this issue first arose, we are nowhere nearer to resolving the current geopolitical situation with respect to energy for the Balkans.

Timeline of Putin’s Meetings with Greek prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis:

07.12.04: Karamanlis visits Russia
08.09.05: Karamanlis meets Putin in Porto Carras (Halkidiki), Greece
04.09.06: Karamanlis meets Putin in Athens
15.03.07: Karamanlis-Putin meeting, first serious discussion by South Stream.
22.06.07: Karamanlis – Prodi – Stanisev meet in secret in Brussels
25.06.07: Karamanlis meets Putin in Constantinople (this is where the agreement was officially announced towards everyone’s astonishment, even Erdogan’s)
18.12.07: Karamanlis makes an official visit to Moscow
29.04.08: Working visit by Karamanlis to Moscow

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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Monomachos.com is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran

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Via Ekathimerini


Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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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.

The Duran

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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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