Bulgaria Caught Between Russia and Europe in the Game of Pipes
Each time the ЕC slams Bulgaria over South Stream, Economy Minister Dragomir Stoynev makes a statement, with both anger and anxiety carved into his face. Is he embarrassed for having to stick to the government's prescriptions?
He might be. Some experts claim that, in the case of South Stream, instructions come directly from Gazprom. But even if the pipeline is just yet another evidence of Russian influence in Bulgaria, there is more to it to be taken into consideration.
Bulgaria does not have alternative routes safeguarding energy security. In this it resembles Central and East European countries like Greece, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, which are also set to have the new pipeline on their soil. Some of these countries have also signed agreements with Gazprom; but it is Bulgaria that the Commission chose to start an infringement procedure against, despite hinting the record of other states regarding South Stream might also be dubious.
EC admitted it was in a rush to stop the project and that is why it sanctioned Bulgaria. But the government in Bulgaria is also in a rush to see the project is under way; it knows that here energy could easily make a government fall.
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