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Who burnt Greece? Hybrid wars: Putin, the South Stream gas pipeline, and the U.S.

Was Greece and the Karamanlis government destabilized and the country set ablaze as part of a hybrid war in response to Greece’s interest in Russian gas pipelines?

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Since the U.S. launched in earnest its unipolar bid for world domination in 1990 and once the Gulf war was in full swing, energy geopolitics came to dominate U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the European Union. During the 2000s decade, Greece was burnt severely in what almost everyone now believes to have been a CIA destabilization process to break up the arrival of Russian energy pipelines. Twice the U.S. blocked the arrival of Russian gas in the Balkans, once in Greece and once in Bulgaria.

Fires in Greece

For over a decade, Greece experienced fires which always magically emerged in locations where there were many trees or bushes and spread like wildfire (pun intended), as they erupted, coincidentally, on days with high winds. Anyone who observed the reports saw that the allegations centered upon theory: individual mistakes (such as cigarettes thrown out of car windows, electricity pylons catching fire, and grandmothers cooking carelessly and burning their food), and that behind each disaster were property developers out to make a killing.

The theories worked in so far as there was property development up until 2010 but there was one nagging issue: certain fires occurred near the tops of mountains where access would only be possible by helicopter. So building a house on a mountain top where you couldn’t even get materials up there or access any built property was an absurd notion.

Each summer, the deficiencies of the state were revealed. Not enough water planes were available to put out the fires and not enough firefighters were in operation. But everyone knows that a fire that is started deliberately is doubly difficult to extinguish. Indeed, reports have frequently surfaced from firefighters themselves that they have discovered incendiary devices at the site of the blazes. So, when observing a fire in real time, one can see one wing of it extinguished and then another front immediately flares up at a great distance. The corporate-controlled media always has an excuse for everything, claiming nonsense such as a smoldering cinders flew a couple of miles and started another blaze in another area.

Satellite image of major fires raging in the Peloponnese region and in the Parnitha mountain range outside of Athens, 2007.

When basic logic evaporates, then anything else can fill the vacuum, and the purpose behind that is to hide who the real perpetrators are and to put forth any sort of justifications ensuring that no questions are asked and no proper investigations are ever called for. Those are the politics of those who are apologists of the system: they never seem to see any ulterior motives. But history always works against those who require lies to cover the truth. The truth will emerge, sooner rather than later.

In the 2000s under the Konstantinos Karamanlis regime, Greece made a turn towards energy dependence on Russia. Large public buildings such as hospitals and schools would be provided with Russian gas, in particular after Greek shipowners pioneered the delivery of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in container ships, leading to its easier delivery and storage. But another part of the proposals encompassed the securing of a Southern EU-Russian pipeline, like the one that exists in Northern Europe (i.e. Germany).

What happened next is a case study in hybrid warfare. Without going public, the Greek government was destabilized by massive “wildfires” up and down the breadth of the country, resulting in numerous fatalities. There was no way the South Stream pipeline would be allowed, on American dictats. Karamanlis’ former classmate Christos Zahopoulos allegedly jumped off a building as a result of an affair, an unheard-of reaction in Greek society. The fires reached right next to Karamanlis’ summer house in Rafina.

After his election in 2004, Karamanlis met Putin, who then followed up with a visit to Greece. A deal was cut between Greece, Bulgaria, and Italy to set up the South Stream Russian gas pipeline.

A U.S. lobbyist by the name of Matthew Bryza, who married Turkish journalist Zeyno Baran, was the first to write against the Putin-Karamanlis deal regarding the South Stream pipeline. After all, this was the pipeline that sidelined Turkey. It’s an irony of history that as dozens of Greeks were burnt alive in the Peloponnese region, Bryza was marrying in Constantinople in 2007, on the 23rd of August. This was the period when Turkey was steadfastly pro-American.

American shenanigans

U.S. officials met then-deputy foreign minister Giannis Valinakis in Rafina in March 2007. Bryza got straight to the point: “[o]ther European countries have objections to the policies of the Greek government in the energy sector. Independently from your desires you are pursuing the dependence of Europe to Russian gas and therefore to Russian interests,” he said.

Out of many of the meetings they had in New York City, one of the meetings which they had in the Waldorf Astoria in September 2008 was characteristic. “Every time I tried to raise our own agenda regarding the Greek-Turkish situation, the conversation was steered back to energy issue, while in another meeting progress in national issues was linked directly to energy, i.e. the cancellation of South Stream pipeline” Valinakis recalls. American desires came to the fore: “We cannot help on issues that you raise like the Greek-Turkish ones, when you are advancing Russian interests’ Bryza stated. “You need to help us so you have assurances that there is no tension in the Aegean.”

In response, Valinakis states that he answered that “[t]he energy issues are dealt with directly between (then-foreign minister) Dora Bakogianni and the prime minister. Greece follows an independent energy policy.” Even when Valinakis spoke about the start of discussions with Gaddafi regarding independent oil drilling areas south of Crete he received the following answer: “That is good. You can negotiate with countries like Libya and others but not with Russia.”

Valinakis publicly responded to Bryza in May 2008, “[w]ith a serious and responsible manner, the prime minister and the government are advancing and protecting national interests in the best way on all fronts. As an extension, whatever advice is received from whichever quarter only creates noise and does not aid in any way.”

Secret meeting in Brussels

In 2007, the newspaper To Vima revealed the plan of shocking the three prime ministers (those of Greece, Italy, and Bulgaria) in order to muddy the waters and throw a monkey wrench in the pipeline talks. The issue of phone calls being wiretapped and intercepted had just broken out as a scandal in Greece, and the Americans were following closely all the steps of the prime minister. The Greek government tried to take matters into its own hands so the agreement would not collapse. Thus, in June 2007 a secret meeting was held in Brussels by the prime ministers of the three aforementioned countries.

This meeting was to take place while another meeting with European heads of state was being held in Brussels, thus providing cover. Karamanlis, Sergei Stanishev and Mario Prodi had coordinated amongst themselves to come out of the meeting at the same time and all those that followed them knew about it. They all went to the offices of the Greek representatives and ironed out all the petty details regarding South Stream.

Three days later, from Constantinople came the announcement that Greece and Russia had decided to deepen their cooperation beyond the Burghas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. The fact Karamanlis and Putin shook hands for the South Stream pipeline resulted in total astonishment on the part of the Americans. We are told in the report from To Vima that the U.S. ambassador immediately departed Athens.

It’s worth noting that in the documents of the Trilateral Commission, decisions were made in the 1970s to control European output in manufactured goods and energy. Hence coal mining was shuttered in most northern European states and European countries became energy dependent on imports of both coal and gas. Greece is fortunate enough to have an abundance of lignite, which provides around 50 percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Over a two-decade period, the EU has pushed for the full-scale privatization and closure of the lignite mines in order for Greece to become fully dependent on imports. In a strange irony, Germany cut a deal with Russia and now has two pipelines supplying it with gas and oil whilst southern Europe still has none. The U.S. obviously wanted to supply southern Europe via the gas and oil reserves of Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan with the TAP pipeline.

As written by To Vima in 2007, “[t]he game is big and our country is small. Putin’s rushing and the reactions of the Americans show that Greece is in the middle of a serious conflict. It is clear we need careful decisions and a flexible approach. Greece should come out on top and not become a target of revenge-mania as we all know how big powers react.”

Eyewitness account from Evia, 2009

At the time, I was on the Greek island of Evia, which is close to Athens. From there, one could observe the outbreak of fires both on the mainland and on the island. Indeed, mountainsides erupted in flames out of the blue in more than one location at the same time. Firefighters on the scene mentioned pyrotechnic fire mechanisms which were either thrown from the side of roads or dropped from above. An unlucky pilot attempting to extinguish the fires flew low and crashed, killing himself.

Greece is mountainous in many areas, and such areas are impossible to access by foot easily or by a vehicle of any sort. It is therefore illogical to believe that fires would start simultaneously on mountaintops in more than one location, making it impossible for firefighters or military planes to put them out. Such was the case with the fire that burnt the Parnitha mountain range just outside Athens.

Reaffirmation by Vyron Polydoras

An argument broke out regarding South Stream pipeline amongst the then-minister of public order of the Greek Parliament Vyron Polydoras and the then-U.S. ambassador Daniel Speckhard in 2009. Speckhard had called in the interior minister of Western Samoa and six Greek MPs for a meal. Amidst all this, he said: “Whats gotten into you with South Stream?” to which Polydoras replied: “[i]t would be an ideal route.”

Speckhard’s response was firm: “[i]t’s not allowed, you understand, this is a geopolitical issue.” In response, Polydoras stated: “[w]e will go against Russia? Why don’t you ask Chancellor Schroeder? No pipeline competes with another. Europe requires four and five pipelines and still will not be satisfied energy wise.”

Back to the Future

If one looks at the plans of the two pipelines above, one pipeline originating from Cyprus is independent of Turkey and the second pipeline represents the original pipeline to replace the Russian South Stream via Turkey. The Greek portion of TAP is almost completed, but the issue is whether it will ever come online via Turkey.

Now, the irony of the situation is that Russia has cut a deal to have South Stream pipelines going to Turkey from the Black Sea. Turkey’s geopolitical role has suddenly been raised and America is now engaged in a turf war with Turkey, not wanting to allow it any further geopolitical power. As if history repeats itself, the new Italian government – shades of Berlusconi – seems to be friendlier towards Russia. Berlusconi had been instrumental in the 2000s in agreeing to the South Stream pipeline and was probably ousted as a consequence of that, having faced scandals not unlike those repeatedly faced by the Karamanlis government.

Oil and gas appear to be America’s weapon of choice in its attempt to maintain its global role and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, when in reality almost all observers realize it is in full-scale retreat. The issue however remains: America does not appear able to supply southern Europe with energy, and two decades on, since this issue first arose, we are nowhere nearer to resolving the current geopolitical situation with respect to energy for the Balkans.

Timeline of Putin’s Meetings with Greek prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis:

07.12.04: Karamanlis visits Russia
08.09.05: Karamanlis meets Putin in Porto Carras (Halkidiki), Greece
04.09.06: Karamanlis meets Putin in Athens
15.03.07: Karamanlis-Putin meeting, first serious discussion by South Stream.
22.06.07: Karamanlis – Prodi – Stanisev meet in secret in Brussels
25.06.07: Karamanlis meets Putin in Constantinople (this is where the agreement was officially announced towards everyone’s astonishment, even Erdogan’s)
18.12.07: Karamanlis makes an official visit to Moscow
29.04.08: Working visit by Karamanlis to Moscow

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The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland.

The Duran

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Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com:


Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom. Then came the 535 BCm (18.9 TCf) Leviathan in 2010 and the 850 BCm (30 TCf) Zohr discovery in offshore Egypt five years later and suddenly it seemed that an Eastern Mediterranean gas expansion is inevitable. Yet over the years, the operators of Leviathan have already allocated part of their total gas volumes to domestic power generating companies and most notably NEPCO, the Jordanian electric power company (1.6-2BCm per year). Egypt has been concentrating on meeting domestic needs and getting rid of LNG imports, moreover once it bounces back to gas exporter status in 2019, it will only use its own 2 LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku.

Thus, a pertinent question arises – whose gas would be used to fill the EastMed pipeline? If the pipeline starts in offshore Cyprus, then it would be logical to expect that Cyprus’ gas bounty would be somehow utilized. Yet Cyprus has been lagging behind Egypt and Israel in its offshore endeavors and so far lacks a clear-cut giant field to base its supply future on. The two discoveries appraised heretofore, the 6-8 TCf Calypso operated by ENI and the 4.5 TCf Aphrodite operated by Noble Energy, are not enough to support the construction of a relatively expensive gas pipeline – all the more so as Noble has signed a provisional deal to send Aphrodite gas to Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal, most likely by means of a subsea gas pipeline. If we are to judge the viability of the EastMed on the current situation, there is only Calypso and Israel to fill the pipeline, as Greece’s gas export plans are close to zero on the probability scale.

The subsea section from Cyprus’ offshore zone to the island of Crete lies in depths of 3km and is stretched across a seismically active zone. But there is even more – should Turkey claim rights on Cyprus’ offshore hydrocarbon deposits (in February 2018 it sent warships to scare away ENI’s drilling rig that was on its way to xxx), the project is all but dead. This is far from an implausible scenario as President Erdogan stated that Turkey would never allow for the extortion of natural resources in the East Mediterranean by means of excluding Ankara and Northern Cyprus. Cognizant of the risks inherent in an East Mediterranean gas pipeline, there has been no interest from oil and gas majors to participate in the project. This is worrying as the $7 billion are expected to be financed from private investors, of which there is a palpable dearth – despite the EU’s 35 million funding to promote what it sees as a Project of Common Interest.

Yet even for the European Union, the EastMed gas pipeline presents a bit of a headache as its commissioning would render the Southern Gas Corridor, comprising so far only of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) with a 10 BCm per year throughput capacity, irrelevant by creating a sort-of competitor. The price of the natural gas to be supplied via the EastMed pipeline might become the biggest obstacle of them all – if the cost of producing offshore Mediterranean gas turns out to be $4-5/MMBtu as expected, the addition of further transportation costs to it all would place EastMed supplied at the bottom range of European gas supply options (Russian gas supply is alleged to be profitable with price levels as low as $4/MMbtu). All this might change if any of the East Mediterranean countries were to discover a giant gas field, altering the economics of production or possibly even liquefaction.

In fact, 2019 will witness several key wells being drilled across Cyprus, Egypt and possibly even Israel. ExxonMobil’s testing of Block 10 in offshore Cyprus would largely point to the overall attractiveness of Cyprus as an oil and gas producing country – the drilling has already started, with results expected in Q1 2019. The ENI-operated Noor offshore field in Egypt, adjacent to Zohr, is a much hotter prospect with BP buying into it lately – most likely it will outshine all the other drilling sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, if a big discovery is confirmed, it would be most likely used for Egyptian purposes which run counter to the EastMed gas pipeline. Thus, EastMed’s only hope is that Israel 2nd international licensing round, results to be announced in July 2019, will elicit a couple of Leviathan-like finds that would make pipeline construction profitable. Until then, the prospects are rather bleak.

By Viktor Katona for Oilprice.com

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Turkey’s Threats against Greece

Erdogan believes that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered.

The Duran

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Authored by Debalina Ghoshal via The Gatestne Institute:


  • The one issue on which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his opposition are in “complete agreement” is the “conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered.”
  • “So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.” – Uzay Bulut, Turkish journalist.
  • Ankara’s ongoing challenges to Greek land and sea sovereignty are additional reasons to keep it from enjoying full acceptance in Europe and the rest of the West.

In April 2017, Turkish European Affairs Minister Omer Celik claimed in an interview that the Greek Aegean island of Agathonisi (pictured) was Turkish territory. (Image source: Hans-Heinrich Hoffmann/Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey’s “persistent policy of violating international law and breaching international rules and regulations” was called out in a November 14 letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres by Polly Ioannou, the deputy permanent representative of Cyprus to the UN.

Reproving Ankara for its repeated violations of Cypriot airspace and territorial waters, Ioannou wrote of Turkey’s policy:

“[it] is a constant threat to international peace and security, has a negative impact on regional stability, jeopardises the safety of international civil aviation, creates difficulties for air traffic over Cyprus and prevents the creation of an enabling environment in which to conduct the Cyprus peace process.”

The letter followed reports in August about Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the northeastern, central and southeastern parts of the Aegean Sea, and four instances of Turkey violating aviation norms by infringing on the Athens Flight Information Region (AFIR). Similar reports emerged in June of Turkey violating Greek AFIR by conducting unauthorized flights over the southern Aegean islets of Mavra, Levitha, Kinaros and Agathonisi.

In April 2017, Turkish European Affairs Minister Omer Celik claimed in an interview that Agathonisi was Turkish territory. A day earlier, a different Turkish minister announced that Turkey “would not allow Greece to establish a status of ‘fait accompli’ in the ‘disputed’ regions in the Aegean Sea.” In December 2017, Greek Deputy Minister of Shipping Nektarios Santonirios reportedly “presented a plan to populate a number of uninhabited eastern Aegean islands to deter Turkish claims to the land.”

According to a recent statement from Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“Greek-Turkish disputes over the Aegean continental shelf date back to November 1973, when the Turkish Government Gazette published a decision to grant the Turkish national petroleum company permits to conduct research in the Greek continental shelf west of Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean.

“Since then, the repeated Turkish attempts to violate Greece’s sovereign rights on the continental shelf have become a serious source of friction in the two countries’ bilateral relations, even bringing them close to war (1974, 1976, 1987).”

This friction has only increased with the authoritarian rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, particularly since, as Uzay Bulut notes:

There is one issue on which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are in complete agreement: The conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered. So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.

The only conflict on this issue between the two parties is in competing to prove which is more powerful and patriotic, and which possesses the courage to carry out the threat against Greece. While the CHP is accusing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP party of enabling Greece to occupy Turkish lands, the AKP is attacking the CHP, Turkey’s founding party, for allowing Greece to take the islands through the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne, the 1932 Turkish-Italian Agreements, and the 1947 Paris Treaty, which recognized the islands of the Aegean as Greek territory.

This has been Turkish policy despite the fact that both Greece and Turkey have been members of NATO since 1952. Greece became a member of the European Union in 1981 — a status that Turkey has spent decades failing to achieve, mainly due to its human-rights violations.

Recently, EU and Turkish officials met in Brussels on November 30 to discuss an intelligence-sharing agreement between the European Police Service (Europol) and Ankara. Such an agreement is reportedly one of 72 requirements that Ankara would have to meet in order to receive visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.

Ankara’s ongoing challenges to Greek land and sea sovereignty are additional reasons to keep it from enjoying full acceptance in Europe and the rest of the West.

Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.

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Paranoid Turkey Claims “Greece, Israel, & Egypt Are Part Of Khashoggi’s Murder Plot”

A new Turkish narrative has been launched claiming that Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of the murder plot of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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Via Zerohedge


As we noted previouslythe conflict over gas in the eastern Mediterranean is intensifying.

The dispute concerns gas blocks, with Turkey furious about the energy cooperation of these Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt in the East Mediterranean Sea. While Turkish warships have been active, it appears Turkey is taking a new approach to this hybrid war.

As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports,a new Turkish narrative, based on paranoia and conspiracy theories, has been launched claiming that Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of the murder plot of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggipresumably in an effort to garner global opinion against their energy-hording neighbors.

This unbelievable allegation has been claimed by Erdogan’s close aide Yigit Bulut, who is famous for his delirium and ravings, during an appearance on state television of Turkey.

“Greece, Israel and Egypt are part of murder plot involving slain Saudi Arabia journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul,” Yigit Bulut said in TRT Television, where he is a frequent guest.

Enlisting the ‘good old traditional perception’ that Turkey is surrounded by enemies, KeepTalkingGreece notesthat Bulut said:

“a belt extending from Europe to Israel has always harbored hostility towards Turkey they never wanted Turks in this region. Europe even made Turks to fight unnecessary wars against Russia.”

It is worth noting that Russia and Turkey have come closer recently due to Syria, a cooperation sealed with armament sales to Ankara triggering the anger of US and the NATO of which Turkey is a member.

Bulut vowed that Turkey will continue oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean off-shore Cyprus.

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