02:45 GMT +315 October 2019
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    This is a Monday, May 28, 2012 file picture, of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves the High Court in London.

    Mega Gas Transit Project: TAP Pipeline on Blair's Mind Ahead of Salvini Talks

    © AP Photo / Alastair Grant
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    Plans to extend the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will be on the discussion agenda during the meeting of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, according to reports.

    The two officials are scheduled to discuss plans to extend a gas pipeline that will run from Azerbaijan to Puglia in Southern Italy.

    Having worked as a consultant on TAP for four years, Mr. Blair has not offered an official explanation for the meeting. However, his fellow negotiator, Mr. Salvini, said he would hear Mr. Blair out.

    The issue of the TAP has divided the ruling Italian coalition of the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Salvini's League.  In June, Guglielmo Picchi, who is also a foreign policy adviser to Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Lega Party leader Matteo Salvini, told Sputnik:

    "The TAP is an important strategic infrastructure for Italy and Europe: it is our intention to put it in place, obviously in consideration of every possible fallout it could have on the environment."

    Environmental protection activists, however, argue that Puglia, which has two UNESCO world heritage sites, will suffer if the pipeline project goes through.

    Given Mr. Blair's anti-populism stance and position as head of the Institute for Global Change, a movement dedicated to combating populism and its causes — he might be an unlikely candidate to convince populist Mr. Salvini in talks. 

    The TAP is one of the sections of the Southern Gas Corridor, along with the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) and Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). It is expected to bring 10 billion cubic meters of gas from the Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Stage 2 gas field to Europe per year. The pipeline will be 878 kilometers (545 miles) long. 

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    Tags:
    populism, gas pipeline, Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, Matteo Salvini, Tony Blair
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