146843 3/21/2008 11:31 08ATHENS438 Embassy Athens CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN VZCZCXRO1310 PP RUEHBW DE RUEHTH #0438/01 0811131 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 211131Z MAR 08 FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1508 INFO RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 0131 RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5100 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0987 RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4349 RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 0199 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA 1593 RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 0523 RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 1019 RUEHBW/AMEMBASS BELGRADE 0005 RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0028 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0964 RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0507 RUEHTH/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI 1836 RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2005 RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 000438
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2018 TAGS: ENRG, GR SUBJECT: ENERGY: GREEKS SEE BAKU READY TO COOPERATE, ANKARA STANDING IN THE WAY
Classified By: Ambassador Daniel Speckhard for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (C) Summary. Minister of Development Folias told the Ambassador he had found a spirit of "excellent cooperation" in Baku during his March 17 trip there. Folias was particularly pleased to hear from Baku that Azerbaijan had "lots of gas", some of which was available immediately. Unfortunately, his trip to Baku threw a stark light on the transit dispute between Baku and Ankara, which left Folias a bit unsettled. At the Ambassador's urging, Folias instructed his staff to set up quickly a visit for the Minister to Ankara. On Russia, Folias noted he wanted to build strong energy relations with as many energy suppliers as possible. This is simply good business sense, he claimed. He noted that the next meeting of the South Stream inter-governmental working group would take place in another ten days. Folias also promised to continue making headway in rationalizing Greece's arcane, Byzantine and opaque procurement rules. End Summary.
- - - - - - - Baku Readout - - - - - - -
2. (C) Folias provided a fairly glowing readout of his visit to Baku, saying his meetings were held in a "very good spirit" and praising the "excellent cooperation" he found. He met with the Azerbaijani President, Prime Minister, as well as with the Minister of Industry/Energy, and the Deputy Foreign Minister. He also had a meeting with SOCAR. Folias noted his trip was the fulfillment of a promise Prime Minister Karamanlis had made to President Aliyev during the November 2007 TGI ceremony at the Turkish-Greek border.
3. (C) Folias said he had told his Azerbaijani counterparts that he wants long-term cooperation based on concrete arrangements. These should focus, in the energy field, on setting up the mechanics necessary to safeguard Greece's energy supplies. He noted that "The Azeris are as keen to work with us as we are with them. Moreover, they have a huge supply of gas." Folias said Azerbaijani officials had told him that the country had gas for 100 - 200 years, and that it had extracted 28 bcm of gas this year alone.
4. (C) Folias noted he had told the Azerbaijanis that, in the short-term, Greece very much wanted to secure an additional 1 bcm of gas supply from Baku to cover immediate Greek needs. "They are ready to supply this", he said.
5. (C) Folias noted that his visit was about establishing a broad framework of cooperation with the Azerbaijanis: "Energy was not the only item on our agenda." He noted that the two sides had investigated cooperating in establishing joint ventures between small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism and trade industries. The Greek side had offered its assistance in helping Baku set up: a food quality control organization; a standardization organization; and an alternative energy organization. Lastly, Athens was offering its shipping industry expertise.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Fly in the Ointment: Turkey's Transit Demands - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (C) Folias said that, while his meetings in Baku gave him hope, he left with increased concern about Turkey. He reminded the Ambassador of the Turkish cut-off in Greece's initial TGI gas supplies this winter. "Luckily the winter in Greece was not too cold. We were able to make up for the cut-off in gas supplies from Turkey through additional supplies through Bulgaria and Algeria, but this initial stage of TGI did not go the way we had planned it." The Minister went on: "We have to be secure. If you're trying to do
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long-term planning out to 2020, you need concrete, reliable information."
7. (C) Folias' concerns over Turkey were heightened in Baku, where he heard from numerous sources about the transit impasse between Baku and Ankara. Folias was considering calling a four-way meeting of the TGI member states plus Baku in order to flesh out a four-way TGI A inter-governmental agreement. "We're all married through TGI, now we need to make the marriage work." Folias said the key challenge was "how to convince Turkey to be happy solely as a transit country" in view of Turkey's goal to "trade 15% of the gas coming from Azerbaijan." Folias said he used to think of Azerbaijan and Turkey as being as close as a "finger and its nail," but was now concerned this relationship appeared to be growing distant.
8. (C) The Ambassador praised Folias for the multiple actions he had taken to support TGI recently, including a trip to Italy in late January, helping ratify the GoG-GOAJ bilateral energy IGA in February, and finally his trip to Baku. He said we recognized Folias' concern over the cut-off but encouraged him to look at this as only a reason to continue the strategy of diversity in supplies and routes and as an opportunity for working with Turkey to develop a more robust agreement. The Ambassador also noted the role we played and will continue to play in encouraging Turkey to maintain gas supply to Greece. He asked Folias whether he was now considering a trip to Ankara, which seemed particularly useful in the current circumstances. Folias said he had hoped to visit Ankara on his way back from Baku, but that he had had to cut his trip short in view of the difficultwith Russia - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (C) The Ambassador asked about the state of Greek cooperation with Russia on energy, noting that the USG recognized that this relationship was strong and did not want to undermine it. Our concern was simply when Russia used its monopoly power to pressure Greece. We were particularly concerned that Russia not link issues such as the extension of the current Russian supply agreement to other, separate issues.
10. (C) Folias emphasized that he wanted to have productive energy relations with as many supplier countries as possible. "Greece does not have an energy supply surplus." His policy was to have at least two major gas suppliers. "What happens if a terror attack destroys one supply pipeline?" His highest priority with Russia was to extend to 2040 the current supply agreement that is set to expire in 2016. He said he saw "no strings attached" in his negotiations with Gazprom and Russian authorities.
11. (C) Folias noted that Russian Deputy Energy Minister Yannofskiy had been in Greece March 13 for discussions. The two sides had set up a "technical secretariat" to consider Greece's participation in South Stream, which was to meet again in another 10 days. On oil, the Burgas-Alexandroupoli company had been set up and held two board meetings, but now the company needed to work up a feasibility study for the pipeline.
12. (C) Folias ended the discussion on Russia by saying "we know Russia is not happy with TGI. But we've told them that Greece must support its EU partners as a conduit of Caspian
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gas. We simply cannot undercut our international reputation."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Ambassador Urges Folias not to Support TAP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
13. (C) The Ambassador urged Folias not to support the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline of EGL and promised to supply Folias with information backing up the USG's belief that TAP would not serve Greece's interests. Folias thanked the Ambassador in advance for the information.
- - - - - - - - - - Procurement Issues - - - - - - - - - -
14. (C) The Ambassador also discussed Greek procurement. He thanked Folias for recent moves to simplify Greece's procurement procedures, noting the good work of the Development Ministry's Secretary General for Procurement, Dimitris Skiadas. He urged the GoG to continue these efforts by establishing a clear list of documents U.S. firms could submit in order to meet the requirements of Greek law. Currently, there are required documents available to Greek firms from the Greek government that simply did not have equivalents in the United States. Folias called Skiadas on the phone during the meeting, who assured the Minister that the final list of alternative documents would be published in May. Folias also said he wanted to go to an on-line procedure for tendering as the best way to assure fairness, transparency, and efficiency. He promised to create a system that would protect the proprietary information supplied by all bidders. He also stated that he would like to reduce the level of detail in specifications and requirements in order to give authorities more discretion and responsibility in the process. SPECKHARD