Greece halts energy privatisations, cozies up to Russia


Kostis Geropoulos


ATHENS – The new Greek government will not proceed with any energy privatisations, Greece’s new Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, said during a crowded handover ceremony on January 28 in Athens.

“I’m talking about privatisations that are in process. There is no privatisation that will move forward in the field of energy,” he said, eluding a question about Greek natural gas grid operator DESFA that was sold to Azerbaijan’s SOCAR pending EU approval.

“We will support public companies as public companies and we will try to change their orientation. We will work more efficiently, more productively towards the social interest, towards the productive interest of the country and especially help the general reconstruction and exit from the crisis.”

Lafazanis, however, made it crystal clear that the planned privatization of Greece’s biggest power producer PPC, electricity grid operator ADMIE, and Hellenic Petroleum would be halted.

Signaling a change in regional energy politics, Lafazanis also slammed yesterday’s Statement of Heads of State and Government of the EU “that criticisedRussia using Cold War rhetoric and prepared the ground for fresh sanctions”. “We don’t want decisions to be taken in absentia,” he said, accusing the EU of taking advantage of the government changeover in Greece to issue the statement without consulting Athens.

“This example is important because it’s connected to the domestic and international energy relations of our country. The international energy relations of our country will become multi-leveled and multi-facetted,” he said. “We will not be anyone’s satellite. Greece in its international energy relations – this is not addressed to anyone – will move exclusively taking into account its national interest, the public interest, the development interest of the country, the popular interest,” he said.

Lafazanis also stressed the importance of developing Greece’s renewable energy sector, including photovoltaic, and pledged to help support especially the small renewable energy producers.