Bulgaria's Foreign Minister: Gas Supply Disruptions Not Ruled Out
Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin believes that the scenario of a new gas crisis affecting Bulgaria is possible despite the lack of an immediate threat of a gas supply cut.
He explained that the problem would be triggered by the increase in gas prices and the new payment schemes which Russia planned to impose on Ukraine.
Vigenin, as cited by mediapool.bg, suggested that this could lead to a suspension of gas shipments to Ukraine and a recurrence of the events of 2009 when Ukraine responded by stopping gas transit.
Bulgaria's Foreign Minister underscored that the current situation proved the necessity of implementing the South Stream gas pipeline project.
"We must not become hostages to the economic, political and financial instability of the transit countries," Vigenin declared, adding that Ukraine had to become a stable country but the existing state of insecurity would probably last for quite some time.
He also said that he did not expect the EU to impose economic sanctions against Moscow unless Russian troops invaded Ukraine, adding that the attitude of a large part of EU countries was similar.
Vigenin claimed that even the four-party meeting in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine, US, and EU failed, it would automatically lead to a tightening of sanctions.
Bulgaria's Foreign Minister announced that more than 50 extra consular officers would be sent to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to facilitate visa issuance during the tourist season.
He said that the Foreign Ministry was putting extraordinary effort into assisting their work because the situation in Ukraine and Russia entailed certain risks for the tourist season.
Vigenin claimed that the risks stemmed from the worsening economic situation in Ukraine, which could discourage some tourists from traveling, and from the change of routes which required a Schengen visa so that one could circumvent Ukraine by going through Poland.
Bulgaria's Foreign Minister insisted that the trends had been identified on time and the authorities were doing everything possible to simplify the visa regime, to improve transport conditions, etc.
He assured that the protection of Bulgarians in Ukraine, estimated at over 300 000, was a priority task for the Foreign Ministry.
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Hristo and Ranji, just because Bulgaria chooses to put its energy security in the hands of our Russian friends shows how much trust we have in Moscow as we know they would never halt supplies or increase prices to their Bulgarian cousins - unlike some other countries I could mention.
For a country that consumes 4 billion cubic meters of gas a year yet has an estimated 300 billion to 1 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves, Bulgarian politicians of ALL parties seem very keen to ensure they are forever at the mercy of Russia when it comes to energy independence. Indeed, the entire "fracking debate" in Bulgaria consisted of a couple of demonstrations involving a few hundred protestors that was quickly followed by the passing of a draconian law preventing exploration in a country that is virtually empty on the basis of "environmental concerns". Curiouser and curiouser when you consider that Bulgaria is a country that flagrantly ignores all international environmental legislation, where you can burn what you like, drive vehicles without any pollution limitations, has no recycling centers, construct massive tourist complexes along pristine stretches of the Black Sea coast, and where you are free to dump rubbish wherever and whenever you like without any chance of prosecution.