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Will Nabucco pipeline deal free Europe from Russian gas?

The EU and Turkey signed a $11 billion gas pipeline deal that should give Europe more supply options.

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From left, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, prime ministers Gordon Bajnai of Hungary, Werner Faymann of Austria, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Sergei Stanishev of Bulgaria, and Emil Boc of Romania are seen during the Nabucco Gas Pipeline signing ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday.

Burhan Ozbilici/AP

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It's being called a milestone for energy-hungry Europe.

Today's European Union-Turkey deal to begin building the 2,000-mile Nabucco gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Austria – reducing Europe's dependency on Russia – means investors can legally move on a project that has been much more talked about than acted on since 2002.

But many milestones remain in the great geopolitical game over energy from the Caucasus and Central Asia – many involving the Russian bear.

"We are determined to make the Nabucco pipeline a reality as quickly as possible," said José Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, staking out a tough position. Last week, Russian national energy security fund chief Konstantin Simonov pooh-poohed the deal, calling it "only a piece of paper."

After a brutally cold winter in which much of the Balkans and southern Europe faced freezing cities and homes due to a Russia-Ukraine gas and politics dispute, the EU has been under pressure to act on its members' behalf.

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