Speech at the Official Opening Ceremony of the Blue Stream Gas Pipeline November 17, 2005
Samsun, Turkey

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Many thanks for such a warm reception. I address first of all my dear colleagues, the Prime Minister of Turkey and the Prime Minister of Italy, and everyone present.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

We have been waiting for today for a long time. We are ceremonially opening the Blue Stream gas pipeline which started to work at full capacity. And first of all I would like to thank everyone who helped carry out this remarkable and difficult project. More than one hundred thousand people worked on implementing it. Of course, they cannot all fit into this hall but I hope that they will hear us today. For it is also their day. They are workers, engineers and those who financed the project.

This was a very difficult project and sceptics called it not 'Blue Stream' but 'Blue Dreams'. This was understandable because throughout history no other such project has used technology quite like this one. Experts from the largest energy companies - Gazprom from Russia, ENI from Italy, Botas from Turkey - took part in setting it up. Joining the resources and intellectual capital from Russia, Turkey, Italy and other countries proved successful.

I consider that launching the gas pipeline is one more step towards creating a common European energy space. I completely agree with my Turkish colleague who talked so convincingly about this. It is a step towards strengthening the continent's energy security and diversifying deliveries of crude energy to general consumers.

Blue Stream actually turns Turkish territory into an energy bridge between east and west and gives Turkey a new role in the European energy space. It creates opportunities to develop the Southern European Gas Ring which optimizes gas exports to southern Europe and the Balkans. The gas pipeline is built on such a huge scale; it really is impressive. Already this year Blue Stream will provide 3,7 billion cubic metres of gas.

Russian companies are ready to cooperate further in the Turkish oil and gas markets. And not only increasing energy exports but also participating in developing gas transit infrastructure, finding and extracting raw materials, including by shared investment.

Blue Stream also opens new possibilities for Russian gas to transit through Turkey to other countries' markets. It is possible to construct another gas pipeline under the Black Sea and establish additional gas transit structures to deliver gas to southern Italy, southern Europe and to Israel.

I would like to thank our Italian partners. Their active and reputable experience and authority in international markets did a great deal for teamwork and the shared result. And the most important thing is the possibility of seeing a global historic prospect to develop one or another such process.

I would like to remind you that the ENI group organized gas deliveries from our country to western Europe during sixty politically difficult years of last century. And joint efforts at that time laid the foundation for today's successful cooperation between Russia and our European partners.

I would especially like to point out Prime Minister Berlusconi's contribution to the development of our interstate relations over the last few years. This certainly facilitates implementing such projects. The experience of establishing Blue Stream is really unique. Technologies and engineering practices that are not found anywhere else were used here. In many respects it is these innovations which allowed us to overcome the Caucasus' difficult terrain and to cross under the Black Sea.

I shall especially emphasize reliability and safety concerning gas transit. All ecological standards have been observed. We have taken maximum care to preserve the environment. Setting up Blue Stream has really encouraged technological progress and opened new prospects for cooperation in the gas sector. I am confident that this experience will also prove useful in future projects.

Dear friends, it is symbolic that our ceremony is taking place in Samsun, the city connected with the Turkish people's national liberation movement led by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk).

During those years Russia acted as Turkey's ally and gave it significant support. This is a historical fact and, along with many other things, is an opportune example of Russian-Turkish cooperation. This cooperation is actively developing today and I am confident that its prospects are extremely auspicious.

Once again I congratulate all Turkish, Italian and Russian experts on the opening of the new gas pipeline.

I wish us all new successes.

Thank you very much for your attention.

November 17, 2005