Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday assured Greece that a major gas pipeline project will help it recover from its debt crisis by boosting state revenues, but has not publicly suggested any possible aid from Moscow.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou ended a two-day trip to Moscow by promising the Kremlin that Greece's economic mess wouldn't sink the South Stream pipeline project.
The pipeline, set for 2015, would carry Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea. Plans call for Greece to be both a customer for South Stream gas and a transit nation.
Putin said last month that Russia had received assurances that Turkey would give the green light to the construction under its sector of the Black Sea by November.
Putin underscored on Tuesday that Greece will greatly benefit from the project as it will emerge as a leading energy transit hub.
"Projects like this are designed to be instrumental in overcoming crisis situations and creating conditions for crisis-free development," Putin said, adding that South Stream is funded by a Russian, French and Italian companies and faces no financial difficulties.
Papandreou's visit raised speculation that Greece, facing the biggest budget deficit in the euro zone, may be seeking a bailout loan from Moscow, but the officials declined to take questions on the subject.
Papandreou voiced confidence that Greece will emerge from the financial slump "in the nearest future as a stronger nation than it is today."
Putin supported Papandreou's view that that all Greek problems "can be dealt with," noting the origin of the global meltdown.
"As we know, the global financial crisis originated neither in Russia, nor in Greece or Europe — it came from across the ocean," Putin said.
"In the United States, we see the same problems — massive foreign debt and budget deficit," he said.
© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.