BERLUSCONI'S MOST IMPORTANT FLIRT (Il flirt più importante di Berlusconi)

Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin, meeting in St Petersburg, have given new impetus to the race to supply gas to Europe. The Italian prime minister is joining his Russian counterpart in pushing the South Stream project over another pipeline backed by the EU. The announcement followed discussions by video phone with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

South Stream, said Putin, had to be constructed quicker than North Stream, a third pipeline that will run under the Baltic Sea and then pass through Scandinavia. The Russian premier said it was possible because the three countries already had experience working together on another building project on Turkish soil, the Blue Stream construction.

South Stream is a joint project involving Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI. After running under the Black Sea, two possible routes are being studied to supply gas to western Europe.
The agreement was sealed back in August during a one-day visit by Vladimir Putin to Ankara. The Turkish prime minister said he saw South Stream as a parallel rather than a rival project to the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline – as both would be needed in the future.


The three leaders had a comprehensive talk concerning the South Stream pipeline project, which is to be constructed jointly by Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s Eni. Putin remarked that issues with Turkey had been resolved, referring to the announcement earlier this week of Turkey’s decision to allow geological exploration in its Black Sea economic zone as part of the South Stream project.

Berlusconi, who is currently in Russia, mentioned on Wednesday the cooperation between Turkey and Italy in the field of technology and the helicopter manufacturing plant that is being established in Turkey through an equal partnership between Italy’s Agusta and a Turkish company. Italy is ready to establish similar partnerships with Russia, too, he added. Berlusconi had also attended talks during Putin’s visit to Ankara on Aug. 6.

PM Erdoğan held a teleconference with Russian and Italian prime ministers on energy issues.
Earlier this week, Turkey, Russia and Italy signed a memorandum of understanding on the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline in Milan. The project will be carried out by the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Company (TAPCO) in which Italian energy company Eni and Turkish company Çalık Energy each hold a 50 percent stake.

The South Stream project is set to eventually run from Russia to Bulgaria under the Black Sea before delivering gas to consumers in Europe. The pipeline, with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters, is planned to be operational in 2016, costing $11.6 billion.

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