Russia Ready to Talk Gas Price Discount, New Loans with Greece - Kommersant

World | April 7, 2015, Tuesday // 12:38|  views

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a plenary session of the Parliament in Athens, Greece, 06 April 2015. EPA/BGNES

Russia is ready to consider a discount to the price of natural gas it is selling to Greece and an extension of new loans to the cash-strapped country, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

The business daily quoted an unnamed Russian government source as saying that Athens would be expected to offer Moscow to acquire certain assets in Greece in exchange. The source didn’t elaborate.

"We are ready to discuss the issue of providing Greece with a discount on gas: under the contract, its price is tied to the price of oil, which has dropped significantly in recent months. We are also ready to discuss the possibility of issuing new credit to Greece," according to the source.

The news was published a day before Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras starts his visit to Moscow where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Kommersant, the visit is highly significant for the Russian government, which seeks to establish warmer relations with the European Union amidst tensions related to the crisis in Ukraine.

The EU and US have imposed financial and economic sanctions on Moscow over what they say is Russia’s support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it is aiding the rebels.

Tsipras’ leftist government, under pressure from the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF to persist in austerity measures in exchange for continued bailout funding, has called for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia, saying they have harmed the Greek economy.

Tsipras hopes his visit to Russia will help boost trade and economic links hit by the EU sanctions against Moscow and the Kremlin’s ban on food imports from the Union.

Greece depends on Russia for nearly two-thirds of its gas imports. Russian energy giant  Gazprom said it wanted to acquire the natural gas firm DEPA in 2013 but decided not to submit a bid because it hasn’t received sufficient guarantees that the financial position of DEPA will not worsen by the time of completion of the transaction.

Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis visited Moscow last month and held several rounds of talks with his Russian counterpart Alexandar Novak and Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller. Lafazanis voiced Greece’s support for Gazprom’s Turkish Stream gas pipeline project designed to replace the suspended South Stream project, saying Athens is interested in extending Turkish Stream from a hub at the Turkish-Greek border into Greek territory.

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Tags: Russia, greece, gas, loans, Tsipras, Putin, Moscow, Ukraine, austerity, EU, IMF, bailout


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