Further to this post and discussion on the foreign policy and security challenges facing Greece now that the Obama administration has expressed its clear desire to elevate Turkey to the status of regional hegemon, I've translated below an article by Stavros Lygeros, which sums up well the implications of the Greek government succumbing to American pressure and stepping away from enhanced strategic relations with Russia. (Read the article in Greek here).
It's been two years since Greece's prime minister Konstantine Karamanlis and Russia's Vladimir Putin announced in Constantinople the South Stream pipeline project, which will bring Russian gas to Bulgaria, Greece and Italy. Washington is opposed to the Russo-European strategic energy relationship, and by extension to the South Stream project, arguing that it will lead to Europe's energy and political dependence on Russia.
Karamanlis had appeared to take the view that Greco-Russian relations should be seen through the prism of specific Greek interests, without, of course, this damaging Greece's Euro-Atlantic ties. This state of affairs and Karamanlis' very good personal relations with Putin granted the Greek prime minister the status of privileged interlocutor with Moscow. Washington's displeasure was expressed not only officially, but with the dissemination of propaganda that portrayed Greece and Cyprus as Russia's 'Trojan Horse' in the European Union.
In the last few months, however, it's become clear that the prime minister is retreating. Is it fear or the argument that a precondition for close relations with the new Obama administration is that Athens loosens ties with Moscow? What is certain is that the Greek foreign minister [Dora Bakoyiannis] and a section of the Greek political and diplomatic elite were never well disposed to the Greco-Russian flirtation and the establishment of a strategic energy relationship. Rather, they shared the American view that Russia is the West's competitor and rival.
Recent events have shown that Greece can't expect anything worthwhile from Obama. On all the national issues, American positions were and remain neutral to negative for Greek interests. Moscow, on the other hand, as a rule, supports Greek positions or upholds a favourable neutrality. But there's more to it than this.
With the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline in operation, and if Greece abandons its participation in the South Stream project, Turkey will become a primary energy transit route and Greece will become dependent on Ankara for its energy needs. In a bilateral crisis, the tap could be turned off and our country starved of energy. This is of no interest to the USA, but it should be of great interest to Athens. It's revealing that Greek circles are stressing how bad Europe's dependence on Russian energy might be, but they're not at all bothered by the possibility of Greece's energy dependence on Turkey.