Cablegate: Greek Parliament's Stefanou On Tgi, South Stream,

DE RUEHTH #0996/01 1960553
R 140553Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000996


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/14/2018

Classified By: A/DCM Clark Price for 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) In a meeting on July 10, the Secretary General of
Parliament, Nikos Stefanou, voiced his support for the TGI
pipeline and confirmed the GoG,s strong support for this
project. At the same time, he expressed skepticism on South
Stream, implying there is no concrete plan in place for its
development. Speaking on Greek Parliament President Dimitris
Sioufas, late-June trip to Russia, Stefanou noted the
Russians went out of their way to make the Greek delegation
feel at home, including by scheduling an out of the blue
meeting with former President Putin. On other issues,
Stefanou told the Acting DCM and the Acting Political and
Economic Counselors that we can count on Parliamentary
ratification of the U.S/EU Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty
(MLAT) and Extradition Treaty this summer. Finally, Stefanou
promised that he will advise President Sioufas of the need
for quick Parliamentary authorization for the GOG to conclude
the U.S./Greece HSPD-6 Agreement, once final agreement on the
text is reached. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -----
TGI: GoG in Position to be &First out of the Gate8
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (C) A/DCM gave Stefanou a quick update on TGI, indicating
he thought the project was well advanced with a well-defined
consumer in Edison and a planned transit route through
Greece. A/DCM indicated that once the Azerbaijani-Turkish
transit dispute was resolved, Greece is set up to be the
&first out of the gate8 with TGI supplying the first
Azerbaijani gas to Europe. A/DCM emphasized, however, that
it was critical now more than ever to continue to underline
to the Azerbaijanis strong GoG support for the TGI through
visits and vocal public statemens. Finally, A/DCM stressed
the key role to be played by private sector Greek power
produers in securing Azerbaijani gas supply for the reek

3. (C) Stefanou concurred tht TGI was a secure, mature
project. Most imprtantly, Stefanou said, Prime Minister
Karamalis wants it to go forward in order to place Greece in
the position of connecting Asia and Europe. On the other
hand, Stefanou claimed not to be optimistic about South
Stream. He believes that the GoG opened up the game on South
Stream, but has no idea how to finish it, implying that
details on the pipeline remain vague and uncertain.

Russia: You are Most Welcome!

4. (C) Turning to his and President Sioufas, 29-30 June trip
to Russia, Stefanou indicated that they were acting on a
year-old invitation from the Russian Duma. Stefanou,s
overall impressions of the visit and the meetings were that
the Russian government went out of its way to make the Greek
Parliamentary delegation feel at home. He and Sioufas met
with, among others, former President Putin, Minister of Trade
and Industry Victor Christenko, and Chairman of the Duma
Gryzlov. Stefanou indicated they were caught off guard by
the meeting with Putin, whose office contacted Sioufas out of
the blue soon after his arrival in Moscow and requested a
meeting. Stefanou described the encounter as the typical
official meeting, but said that it was clear to him that
Putin still wielded much respect and power. Immediately
before his meeting with Sioufas, according to Stefanou, Putin
had met with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. The Greek
Parliamentary delegation did not meet with Russian president
Medvedev. (Note: We understand that the Kremlin has tended
to follow a strict policy of foreign legislators meeting only
with t Sioufas got such
high-level attention is another indication of closer
G2eek-Russian relations. End Note)

U.S./EU MLAT and Extradition Treaties
and HSPD-6: Swift Action Promised

5. (C) A/PolCouns briefed Stefanou on the U.S./EU MLAT and
Extradition Treaties and the bilateral HSPD-6 issues, which
both soon will be on the Greek Parliament,s agenda. On the
U.S./EU MLAT and Extradition Treaties, A/PolCouns indicated
that Greece was one of a very small number of EU states that
had not yet ratified these instruments. Given that they had
been concluded during the Greek EU Presidency, A/PolCouns
urged that Parliamentary review be expedited. Stefanou was
well briefed on the subject and emphatically stated that the
Embassy can count on him, and that Parliament would ratify
the U.S./EU instruments during this summer's session. On
HSPD-6, A/PolCouns told Stefanou that Minister of Foreign
Affairs Bakoyannis has advised Ambassador Speckhard that
Parliamentary approval will be necessary for the MFA to sign
the HSPD-6 agreement on behalf of the GoG, and that she has
pledged that this will be obtained quickly during
Parliament,s summer session. A/PolCouns noted that the U.S.
and Greece have not yet agreed on a final text, but that we
are likely close, and Parliamentary action would be necessary
quite soon. Stefanou responded that he would brief Sioufas
on the issue, and that he was certain Sioufas would
coordinate with FM Bakoyannis to move this document quickly
through the Parliamentary approval process. He noted,
however, that even the Greek summer legislative session
(which is comprised of 50 of the 300 MPs who have authority
to review/approve urgent matters) will not work August 1 -
25, and that "no business" will be concluded during that

Visit to DC?

6. (C) During the meeting, Stefanou indicated that President
Sioufas would like to visit Congress this fall. While A/DCM
noted that the Embassy strongly supports such a visit, we
cautioned Stefanou that this fall may not be an optimal time
for such a visit, as we anticipate a short fall session of
Congress due to the election. We suggested that a better
time would be following the election and once the new
Congress has been seated in early 2009. Stefanou seemed open
to this idea, and we will continue to encourage this timing,
as we want to ensure that when he does come, we are able to
receive him and any accompanying delegation appropriately, as
he has been an important and positive contact on a wide range
of issues of mutual interest, including energy policy.

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