EU Commissioner Ties South Stream to Russia's Stance on Ukraine
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has tied the South Stream gas pipeline to the political behavior of Russia in the conflict in Ukraine.
In an interview for the Frankfurt Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (F.A.S.), he commented that the discussion had come to a standstill because Russia did not want to accept EU energy legislation and because the crisis in Ukraine had eclipsed everything.
"We will continue the talks if the Russian partners go back to adhering to international legal practice and if they are ready for constructive cooperation on the basis of our energy law" Oettinger said.
He made clear that contentious issues had been discussed on a working level.
"In the current situation, with civil war-like conditions in the eastern Ukraine and without Moscow's recognition of the government in Kiev, we will certainly not arrive at a political conclusion of our negotiations," he stated.
The South Stream gas pipeline is to run under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria, where it will go ashore, with one section going to Italy via Greece and one section going to Austria via Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia, F.A.S reminds.
Russia has said the gas pipeline project aims to circumvent Ukraine as a transit country.
Russia's Gazprom has already ordered the pipes for the Black Sea section and the company is to start laying the pipes in the autumn, according to the German newspaper.
Meanwhile, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller announced Saturday that the European Commission could not stop the implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline and that the first gas supplies would reach Bulgaria via its sea section in December 2015.
Several days ago, the European Commission demanded in a Communication to the European Parliament that the South Stream gas pipeline project be stopped until the achievement of full compliance with EU law.
In end-April, Russia filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the European Union over the EU's Third Energy Package.
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