GIG: The number of pipelines crossing through Greece is increasing. But so are the number of pipelines crossing through other countries. With the help of energy, is Greece building on its position in the region, or just keeping up?
Filis: Greece is entering the global energy equation, investing in its strategic position. Greece is gradually becoming a focal point of regional projects in an attempt to connect southeastern Europe with the more mature market of central and northern Europe.
The strategic objective of the EU is to diversify suppliers and routes, and in that respect, Greece is a crucial part of the European supply chain, particularly given its credibility.
GIG: Is there any particular energy project that stands out for its strategic importance to Greece?
Filis: The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the first project in the Southern European corridor with the aim of lessening dependence on Russia.
Through the vertical corridor, linking Greece with Bulgaria (the IGB project), which can be extended to eastern and northeastern Europe, Athens plans to properly exploit the fact that it will receive natural gas from Azerbaijan and, in the future, from other sources from the wider Caspian basin. Athens also expects to transport and manage quantities of gas from the eastern Mediterranean.
Thus, through its participation in various projects, Greece aims to become not only a transit, but also a commercial hub for energy.
GIG: What more could Greece do, on the energy front, to boost its diplomatic position?
Filis: By retaining its accountability and predictability, Athens enhances its geopolitical role, especially nowadays when it is perceived by its allies to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problems that afflict its wider surroundings (western Balkans, northern Africa, and the Middle East).
Both states and businesses can count on Greece, and its determination to support projects with an inclusive and cooperative regional agenda, in making energy a catalyst for synergies rather than confrontation.
It is worth noting that Greece has the potential to become a producer/supplier for the EU market in the long term and, at the same time, contribute to the transition towards green/renewable energy.
GIG: Relations between Greece and Turkey remain weak as Ankara tries to muscle in on natural gas findings in Cyprus. Are there any opportunities for Greece here?
Filis: Greece and Cyprus are members of the EU and therefore oriented towards serving European interests by developing the eastern Mediterranean into a supplementary alternative for the EU’s security of supply.
In that respect, they cooperate with other regional producers, namely Egypt and Israel, in trying to secure the feed to the European market. Athens does not want to exclude either Ankara or the Turkish-Cypriot community from consultations, but their engagement can only be based on the respect of international law and the law of the sea (UNCLOS), as well as on a permanent solution to the Cyprus issue on a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation basis.
Furthermore, it is encouraging that the EU is showing its solidarity, in multiple ways, towards the Republic of Cyprus, and against Turkey’s assertiveness.