Ambassador Ioannis Metaxas: “The financial crisis did not affect Greek-Azeri relations negatively” - INTERVIEW

Ambassador Ioannis Metaxas: “The financial crisis did not affect Greek-Azeri relations negatively” - <font color=red>INTERVIEW</font>
# 27 April 2012 08:03 (UTC +04:00)
- Can the current crisis in Greece impact any further development of Azeri – Greek energy cooperation?

- Greek-Azeri cooperation continues smoothly and the financial crisis did not affect our relations negatively. In the energy field, Greece is currently importing gas by the Turkish company BOTAS, which comes from Shah –Deniz 1. There is already an agreement in principle, so that SOCAR assumes the obligations of BOTAS to directly provide gas to Greece, of course through the Turkish grid. Now, it is high time to change this agreement in principle into a legally binding agreement.

- Are there any visits of Greek officials expected to Azerbaijan in the next future?

- General elections will be held on May 6. Then, a new Greek Government will be constituted. Until then, I cannot make any provision.

- ITGI project wasn’t chosen as the pipeline to transport Azeri energy resources from Shah - Deniz II field to Italy. Could this fact have any influence on bilateral relations?

- Bilateral relations are very important for both countries and we should not let one decision change everything that is achieved until today. This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary since the establishment of our diplomatic relations, back in April 4, 1992. We strongly believe that the ITGI system project is the most mature project to bring Azeri gas to Greece and Italy on the one hand and Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Hungary on the other hand, through the IGB project, which is part of the ITGI system project. I regret the decision taken to exclude it, since the financial means for its implementation were already available. Greece and Italy maintain their support to the ITGI system project, as a trustworthy alternative still available to Azerbaijan, and especially to SOCAR, if the Shah Deniz Consortium is not interested anymore.

- There was an information in Greek Media that DEPA is going to become TAP shareholder. How would you comment this fact?

- I have no such information. It’s probably speculation.

-When is the next meeting of the intergovernmental committee expected?
- The last session took place in Baku, on February 2011. The next session should take place in Athens. It will be the forth such session. However, I have no information on the date the Committee will convene.

- Is Greece interested in attracting Azerbaijani investors into Greek business? If so, then what is to be done for making Greece to be better known among Azerbaijani businessmen?

- Of course, Greece is highly interested in attracting Azerbaijani investors. Four Greek- Azerbaijani Business Fora have already taken place. The last Forum took place a year ago in Baku and was inaugurated by the Presidents of both countries. A lot of other promotional activities also took place during the last few years. On the other hand, I do not underestimate Azerbaijani business people who are open to the world and able to see interesting investing opportunities in Greece. I hope that we will soon see the fruits of their business decisions.