Greece’s Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Dimitris Economou left the inauguration ceremony of the new TANAP gas pipeline at Ipsala, Turkey after provocative statements made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Greek delegation had been invited to Adrianople (Edirne) to celebrate the connection of the TANAP pipeline, which will transport gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey.
Upon hearing Erdogan indirectly announcing to Athens and Nicosia that Turkey will implement the agreement with Libya on maritime borders and that Ankara will not stop drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus, the deputy leading the Greek delegation left the event.
“I can’t say I expected it. I knew it was possible. I was prepared for that,” Economou told SKAI television. “I was there as a representative of the Greek government on a very specific issue: the inauguration of the TANAP pipeline, which will be linked to the TAP pipeline. So we had a reason to be present at the inauguration.”
“From the moment Mr. Erdogan started addressing issues not related to the inauguration of the pipeline – and in a very provocative way for Greece – I thought it was clear that I should leave,” the deputy environment and energy minister said.
Economou said he had listened to Erdogan’s provocative statements for about a minute before leaving. When asked if he had contacted Athens before leaving, he replied: “At that moment I did not communicate. We were prepared for the possibility but did not consider it a given. If we knew, we would not go.”
When the organizers asked the deputy minister what was happening, he replied, “After what Mr. Erdogan said, I cannot stay and I leave.”