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IBNA/Energy Ministers: Enhanced energy co-operation between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt

The 6th Tripartite Summit of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, was completed with a positive sign in Elouda, Crete, where the leaders of the three countries and the Ministers who participated certified the strategic co-operation that enhances the security, stability and prosperity of the Southeastern Mediterranean region.

On the sidelines of the summit, Energy Ministers who were at the centre of talks, spoke exclusively to IBNA, about the importance of this summit and the developments in the energy sector.

Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, Giorgos Stathakis

One of the main issues discussed today in the context of the 6th Tripartite Summit between Greece, Cyprus & Egypt is that of energy policy. Can you comment on the prospects in this area in the framework of the trilateral co-operation?

"As you know, the three countries are of strategic importance in terms of the new hydrocarbon fields that have been found in the southeastern Mediterranean and which will be used. Therefore, the issues are common for the three countries. There is co-operation in progressing with the hydrocarbon exploration and the way natural gas will be transferred to Europe, which is the primary market interested in it. LNG hubs are also relevant to this, as are the pipelines. This is what our discussions are about."

According to sources, the Egyptian side is interested in participating in the East Med project. Is this accurate?

"I think it is too early for one to think so. There is an ongoing discussion. At later meetings we will see how and under what circumstances such a co-operation could go ahead."

Should we expect the tripartite co-operation to expand soon?

"As you know, we will move on to the next phase with the East Med at the centre of attention. Other meetings will also follow though, with Egypt too, among others."

Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry & Tourism, Georgios Lakkotrypis

What were the conclusions of the tripartite summit, energy wise?

"We discussed energy and the latest developments on the summit's sidelines but at leaders level as well, and how these bring us a step closer to what we call eastern Mediterranean natural gas corridor, which is none other than our effort to deliver the region's natural gas to the European Union via Cyprus, Egypt and Greece. The various ongoing projects were discussed, such as the study on the East Med pipeline, and developments regarding the LNG terminals in Revithousa and Alexandroupolis – as you heard the Greek PM say – which will be particularly useful to the creation of the corridor, especially if some of the natural gas transferred from the east Mediterranean is in liquid form. We also discussed future developments and the next steps for better co-ordination. You also heard about the agreement of the three countries regarding the organisation of a forum at the beginning of next year, in an effort to expand it."

Egyptian Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El-Molla

What are your expectations following the 6th trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in terms of energy projects?

"It is all going towards the right direction. This is how we showcase and highlight what we have begun working on, which is a fully fledged co-operation in the energy sector. After this meeting, I think that we are more confident about this collaboration being further strengthened in the energy sector and especially gas. Gas now is the name of the game in the east Mediterranean and, in a wider term, in the Mediterranean there is a new resource and energy where all the developments and work will be focusing on collaboration between the countries, fully maximising the resource (gas) between the producers, the countries we all know and the consumers themselves.

When we talk about consumers, we mean consumers in the Mediterranean and specifically in Europe. So, if we say that the three countries are fully co-ordinated in this regard, I think that a wider co-operation and alignment between more countries within the Mediterranean (region) with regard to gas will be definitely reached since we (already) have this full alignment between the three countries. There is full understanding, full alignment and complete comprehension. Reserves have been found in Egypt, in Cyprus, possibly in Greece, too since drilling has started there also. So, hopefully, we will be able to maximise co-operation as far as gas and energy are concerned, with energy being the main lever which all countries can use to base their economy on."

Are the countries supportive of each other and friendly to each other stability and security wise?

"The countries are 100% aligned. There is understanding between the leaders while there is also policy agreement."… / IBNA

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The first load of US LNG to arrive in Greece before the end of the year

Before the end of 2018, the first LNG load is expected to be unloaded from the US to DESFA's new tank in Revythousa.

It is noted that the new facility has started operating only recently.

In particular, it is the first cargo imported to Greece from the US, "sealing – as stated in a relevant communication – the mutual efforts of the two countries for closer cooperation in the field of energy security in the region of SE Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean".

Natural gas is called upon to play a transitional role in ensuring Greece's energy security in the context of the restructuring of the energy mix and to bringing levels of Renewable Energy Sources to the high levels of the National Energy and Climate Plan.

According to the agreement between DEPA and US CHENIERE, the delivery of 150,000 cubing meters (or 1,000,000 MWh) LNG cargo spot will take place on 29 December.

The use of liquefied natural gas is growing worldwide, favored by the increase in supply through additional LNG exports from Australia and the United States and the downward trend of prices in the spot market.

DEPA is the main importer of LNG in Greece and the strategic objective of the company is to continue to ensure sufficient quantities of natural gas at competitive prices from reliable and diversified sources, maximizing security of supply.

DEPA has signed long-term gas supply contracts with Russian Gazprom, Turkish BOTAS, and Algerian Sonatrach.

Finally, there is a plan for the development of LNG infrastructures to the Aegean islands, as Deputy CEO Demetris Tzortzis has announced, focusing on Lemnos, Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Rhodes and Crete./IBNA

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Kosovo’s PM Haradinaj comments on the Special Court: KLA’s war was just

The Special Court based in The Hague is getting ready to summon a number of former KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) commanders for questioning.

IBNA learns that the list includes 10 members of the biggest political parties in Kosovo, who have served as senior commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war of 98/99.

Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj says that those who have been called for questioning should prove that the war led by the Kosovo Liberation Army was a just war.

“Our liberation war was just and sacred. We have always been asked to make sacrifices and face justice, while we were victims of aggression. Citizens of Kosovo and former KLA members have not hesitated to respond to the requests of international justice”, Haradinaj said.

Meanwhile, the list of people summoned for questioning includes former commanders such as Rrustem Mustafa, Sami Lushtaku and Sokol Dobruna.

At the beginning of August 2015, parliament of Kosovo voted in favour of the creation of the Special Court with its headquarters in The Hague. The idea for the setting up of the court followed the allegations made by the Council of Europe envoy, Dick Marty, for the involvement of several former commanders of Kosovo Liberation Army in organ trafficking and war crimes. /ibna/

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Tense relations between Kosovo and Serbia to be discussed during the Brussels’ Summit

The EU Summit which will be held today and tomorrow in Brussels is also expected to discuss the situation in Kosovo.

At the request of Cyprus, on the first day of the summit, the heads of EU states and governments will discuss the suspension of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

Analysts in Pristina say that this meeting will discuss the lifting of tariffs imposed by Kosovo on goods coming from Serbia.

Professor of political science, Gjon Culaj says that the member states will demand the lifting of the 100% tax hike on Serb goods and the continuation of dialogue for the normalization of relations.

“Kosovo will be asked to lift barriers and continue dialogue, while Serbia will be asked to comply with the Brussels agreement and not hinder Kosovo’s accession in international organizations”, Culaj says.

According to him, Serbia should put a halt on its campaign against Kosovo’s independence in order to continue dialogue and achieve a peaceful agreement between the two countries.

“The achievement of a peace treaty between Pristina and Belgrade would enable both countries a rapid accession in the European Union and NATO”, Culaj says.

On the other hand, authorities in Pristina are pessimistic about the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

According to Fatos Rushiti, advisor at the Ministry of Interior, with the current political class in Serbia, dialogue between the two countries is not expected to yield results.

“Dialogue with Serbia is not expected to yield the expected results. I think that the Kosovar side has been very serious in implementing the Brussels’ Agreement, something which cannot be said about Serbia. Serbia has not yet realized that the only way dialogue with Kosovo could lead to a final agreement is through an authoritative figure such as PM Ramush Haradinaj. Unfortunately, not only Serbia has failed to realize this, but it has also acted aggressively in trying to prevent Kosovo’s accession at Interpol and other international organizations”, Rushiti says. /ibna/

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Katrougalos in Washington – He met with Lute and Nimetz in New York

Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos arrived in New York late in the evening, from Washington, for a meeting with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo that will mark the start of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue. Apart from the known agenda, talks will include the Macedonian issue, but also the tension that has been revived with Albania lately.

In New York, Mr Katrougalos had meetings with Jane Holl Lute and Matthew Nimetz. As pointed out by the Greek deputy Foreign Minister, Lute and Nimetz are working on behalf of the UN and the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on key issues Greece is facing, but which they also concern International Law and the role of the United Nations, the Cyprus and the Macedonian issues.

At the meeting with Lute, Giorgos Katrougalos reaffirmed Greece's commitment to the need to resolve the Cyprus problem, on the basis of UN resolutions. The Greek deputy FM also reiterated the standing positions of Greece that the international dimension of the Cyprus problem cannot but take into account the progress made in Crans-Montana and was reflected in the so-called Guterres framework. Of course, the Greek position remains that the Cyprus issue is an issue of the application of international law and that the anachronistic status of the guarantees can no longer be maintained, Mr Katrougalos added.

At the meeting with Matthew Nimetz, the minister he confirmed the commitment of the Government and Greece to the spirit and the letter of the Prespes Agreement, with the self-evident precondition that this commitment is reciprocal. Discussion also focused on the progress towards the completion of the Prespes Agreement, but also on some of the problems that have been created lately. Finally, Giorgos Katrougalos thanked the American Diplomat for his important contribution to the solution of the Nomenclature./IBNA

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Alexis Tsipras in Brussels

On 13 and 14 December, the Greek Prime Minister will travel to Brussels to participate in the work of the European Council. Key issues to be addressed by the Council are the next multiannual financial framework for the EU (2021-2027), the developments on Brexit, immigration and the reform of the Eurozone.

Regarding the multiannual financial framework, Alexis Tsipras will, according to information, emphasize that the EU budget should act as a redistribution tool in order to achieve the highest possible convergence and the greatest possible social cohesion. For this reason, the funding of new policies such as research and innovation, as well as tackling the refugee crisis, should not be at the expense of traditional EU policies, the common agricultural policy and cohesion policy, which are basic pillars of the European construction.

To this end, there is need for new European resources, in order not to burden EU citizens. Finally, the Greek Prime Minister is expected to stress the need to reach an agreement on the new financial framework within the current European Commission.

Regarding the Brexit issue, the Prime Minister is expected to emphasize that the UK withdrawal agreement is a very delicate balance and that there is no room for renegotiation with the United Kingdom.

As far as the Eurozone reform is concerned, Greece supports Eurozone’s integration with institutions that are subject to democratic accountability, while also supports the proposals for a robust Eurozone budget with a stabilizing function.

With regard to immigration, the Prime Minister is expected to emphasize the need for a European collective solution to the European challenge of the immigration/refugee issue, on the basis of co-responsibility and solidarity. Alexis Tsipras will underline, according to the same information, that all proposals on the reform of the common asylum system are interlinked and constitute a package of measures. These proposals should be based on a fair division of responsibility between all Member States./IBNA

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