Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, in a sideline meeting in Brussels, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to lower the prices that Greece pays for Russian gas, but didn’t get a commitment.
The two men met in Brussels after Samaras addressed a Business Europe conference and Putin had met with European Union officials.
With Greece in the seventh year of a deep recession and a lingering economic crisis – and after the Russian gas giant Gazprom last year pulled out of a bid at the last minute for Greece’s gas company DEPA – Samaras is concerned about the cost of natural gas and reportedly said it wouldn’t pay more than $400 per 1,000 cubic meters.
It was reported that Putin hear Samaras’ plea but said only he would think about the request. After the meeting, Samaras said the prices being charged Greece are 30 percent higher than the European average, but Greece doesn’t have any current alternatives and is reliant on the Russian source.
“My country is currently coming out of a six-year recession and low energy prices from Russia are crucial to our recovery,” Samaras said.
He also tried to rekindle interest from Russia in the sale of the money-bleeding Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and Thessaloniki port as Putin said he was still mulling the purchase of OSE as part of Greece’s privatization push under duress from its international lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank.
Putin, however, wants Greece to sell OSE and the port of Thessaloniki in one package and one bid, which the government said it wouldn’t do, potentially scaring off a deal.