Turkish Primer Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey-Greece Natural Gas pipeline would boost prosperity in the region and became an energy route linking east and west, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.
Erdogan made remarks while delivering a speech at the inaugural ceremony of Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline project held on Turkish-Grecian border, with participation of Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and other top officials.
Underlining the importance of the pipeline connecting Karacabey in northern Turkey with Komotini in northeastern Greece, Erdogan said that the pipeline was of great importance as it would enable the first natural gas transfer to Europe via Turkey, adding that there was potential to further expand Greek-Turkish energy ventures.
The 285-kilometer-long pipeline, which cost nearly 300 million U.S. dollars, aimed to carry a total of 12 billion cubic meters of gas per year (3.6 billion cubic meters to Greece and 8 billion to Italy) from the resources located in Caspian basin and the Middle East over Turkey, said the report.
"This project will bring significant benefits both for Turkey and for Greece ... It shows we can live in harmony and both gain from it," Karamanlis said, renewing his backing for Ankara's bid to join the European Union.
Early in 2003, an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline project was signed between the two countries, while the groundbreaking ceremony of the project started in July 2005.
The report said that the pipeline would also be extended to Italy with the 217-kilometer-Poseido, an underwater pipeline, which expected to be completed by 2010.
U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman also participated the border ceremony, underlining the importance Washington places on the Greek-Turkish-Italian project.
Meanwhile, the EU was backing the Greek-Turkish project as it sought to diversify its energy suppliers and reduce its natural gas dependence on Russia, from where it bought about a quarter of its gas.