Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met this morning with the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, at Maximos Mansion. During their meeting, the two leaders praised the excellent level of bilateral relations and stressed their common desire to further deepen their relations, focusing on the field of energy cooperation. Special reference was made to the flagship project of the successful operation of the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, the IGB Project.
In the presence of Mr. Mitsotakis and Mr. Radev, Energy Ministers Kostas Skrekas and Rossen Hristov signed two Memoranda of Understanding between Greece and Bulgaria, which further deepen the strategic cooperation in the field of energy between Greece and Bulgaria, on the basis of solidarity and reciprocity, enhancing energy security in our wider region, in the context of efforts tο decouple European economies from imports of Russian hydrocarbons.
The first MoU concerns energy cooperation in the supply and storage of natural gas, and the second the exploration of the possibility of constructing a new oil pipeline project, linking the ports of Alexandroupolis and Burgas.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ statements after his meeting with Mr Radev follow:
“Mr. President, my friend Rumen, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, with our friend Bulgaria we had the opportunity, a short while ago, to sign today two agreements that seal our energy cooperation, while at the same time constituting another step towards the strategic goal of European autonomy.
Its importance, therefore, goes beyond bilateral borders and I believe that it becomes a political event that concerns the whole of Europe and at the same time establishes solidarity between our countries.
It is true, as we have discussed many times with my friend the President, that this development is becoming topical because of the geopolitical situation. For a year now, Russian revisionism has been stumbling on the brave defence of the Ukrainian people, but it continues to inflict economic pain, turning energy into an instrument of state blackmail, something that our neighbours are well aware of. They know it first-hand, as last April Russia abruptly cut off the flow of gas to Bulgaria.
And the only answer to this great challenge is to rapidly move away from Russian fossil fuels. By diversifying both the sources and the routes of energy. An option that Greece and Bulgaria have been promoting for three years now, only to deepen it now with the Memorandum of Understanding on the partnership between the Ministries of Energy in the field of security of supply and gas storage.
From now on, Greek companies will be able to store gas at the Chiren facility in northwest Bulgaria, while respectively Bulgarian companies will be able to use Revithoussa. Both countries will thus have guaranteed access to critical infrastructure for their energy security
In other words, this is a bilateral agreement, which has, however, a European scope, as it turns both our countries into a crossroads of gas transit not only from Greece to Bulgaria, but also to the rest of Europe.
And this agreement follows a similar treaty that we have already signed with Italy, thus creating an alternative energy network of strategic importance.
The second memorandum of cooperation that we signed is about oil and its independence from Russian sources. Athens and Sofia, Sofia and Athens both commit that we will explore the possibility of the construction of a new oil pipeline that will connect two crucial ports: Alexandroupolis and Burgas, and through them two seas: the Aegean and the Black Sea.
This is a project, dear President, which, as we were discussing, is being revived. It is being revived in the light of new circumstances, not as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, but as the Alexandroupoli-Burgas pipeline, offering Bulgaria alternative sources of supply, including, of course, a safer, faster and cheaper way of transporting fuel.
Not only because it replaces the tankers that have to pass through the Bosporus Strait, but also because it will be added to other energy facilities that are already functional or under construction. I am referring to the IGB, the FSRU in Alexandroupolis, the new electrical interconnection between Nea Santa and Marista.
And this first pipeline connects Greece with the southern gas corridor and with the vertical corridor that is being developed, but also with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, the TAP. And it now supplies the Balkans with the ultimate goal – why not – for the gas to go from Alexandroupolis all the way up to Ukraine.
And of course it has also contributed to the suspension of the energy isolation of Moldova, with the TAP carrying Azeri gas through Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
Besides, if I am not mistaken, almost 94% of the IGB capacity has been covered, just six months after it became operational. All these are changing the energy map of southeastern Europe as a whole.
Of course, as we have discussed many times with my friend, the President, who has also been in Alexandroupolis, the project for the construction of the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), in Alexandroupolis, is moving at a fast pace, while recently we went to the north-eastern part of the country, in order to initiate the procedures for the construction of a new 840 MW gas-fired power plant, which is ready to boost not only the domestic production, but also to export electricity to the Balkan countries, with whom we share ties of friendship.
A new dense network of energy routes is being formed in our region. In the Balkans, in Europe and beyond. Because the Greece-Egypt electricity interconnection will provide another energy exchange route. I would like to thank the Bulgarian government for its support and for making sure this project is included in the EU’s projects of common interest.
All this, Mr President, suggests that Greece and Bulgaria have a crucial role to play in the energy security, not only of our countries but also for the whole of Europe.
And I look forward to this cooperation continuing with even greater intensity. It is a proof, a tangible proof of how our countries can work together for the benefit of our citizens, while also offering wider services to the European Union. After all, this is no secret. We have the potential – both Greece and Bulgaria – to become providers of energy security in the wider region. And this is something that, of course, as you can see, is of particular geopolitical value under the specific circumstances, at the specific juncture.
Once again. Welcome to Athens, Mr President.