Greece might be rewarded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if it withdraws from the Turkish Stream project, a senior US energy expert said.
The United States has not asserted itself in the Greek debt crisis in terms of its own energy policies, said Gal Luft senior adviser to the US Energy Security Council in an interview with Anadolu Agency. However, in the event that Greece withdraws from the Turkish Stream project, an endeavour which will benefit Moscow, the United States will expect the IMF to reward Greece.
As the largest contributor to the IMF, the United States may use its dominant position in the organisation to force a course change in the negotiations and find an agreement in favour of itself as the political conflict between the US and Russia escalates, urging countries to choose sides on new energy projects.
These remarks came as Greece requested the IMF delay its loan payment which is due between Friday and the end of the month. Athens has to pay the IMF around 300 million euros on Friday, but said it would bundle all the payments due this month into one.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid a visit to the Russian capital in early April with hopes to save the debt-plagued country from its dire economic situation.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Tsipras had gone to Moscow to ask for financial aid, the visit came soon after Tsipras took power in Greece leaving many in the European Union and the United States speculating that Athens may be turning to Moscow to generate income for the cash-strapped Greek government.
The Turkish Stream project was announced on Dec.1 during President Putin’s visit to Turkey as an alternative to the canceled South Stream project which was due to deliver gas to Europe via Bulgaria.
Moscow, which is seeking to diversify its gas exports away from its current markets, blamed the European Union for the cancellation of the South Stream, saying that Brussels imposed conditions that made building the pipeline impossible.
During the Greek leader’s official visit to the Russian capital Putin announced that they agreed to build a new pipeline, which will extend from Russia to Turkey and into Europe from the Turkish-Greek border.
Luft says that pressure over route of the gas exports would shift from Bulgaria to Greece due to this, which relies on the flexibility and good will of the IMF.
He also said the US would focus on completing the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project, which will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece and Turkey instead of the Turkish Stream project, which is in Russia's interests.
Turkey and Russia are currently examining possible routes for the Turkish Stream. Now, however, all eyes will be on Greece to see whether or not they will retreat from the project.