Russia 'Knows' Bulgaria 'Firmly Committed' to South Stream - Minister
Russia is well aware that Bulgaria is firmly committed to the realization of the South Stream gas transit pipeline project, declared Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov.
He sought to refute any allegations that the Borisov government was lukewarm towards the project of the Russian energy giant Gazprom and the Italian Eni.
“Any speculations about an energy war between Bulgaria and Russia hurt our national interests. When somebody can afford to make such claims, you must ask them whose interests benefit from these allegations,” Traikov advised journalists in the Black Sea city of Varna.
Bulgaria’s former government of Socialist PM Sergey Stanishev negotiated in January 2008 three joint large-scale energy projects with Russia – the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the Belene Nuclear Power Plant, and the South Stream gas transit pipeline.
Upon taking over almost a year ago, Traikov’s GERB party has made it clear that it would reevaluate these projects but while the first two are seen as more controversial, the third one, the South Stream gas pipeline, a Russian competitor of the EU-sponsored Nabucco, is widely regarded as the least problematic.
Recent contacts between Gazprom and the Romanian government have led to speculations that Russia might use Romania’s territory going around Bulgaria when building South Stream, which is supposed to go from the Russian Black Sea coast to the Balkans in order to split in two – to Central Europe and Northern Italy and to Greece and Southern Italy.
On Thursday, Traikov also said the Bulgarian government was going to try to renegotiate the prices of the Russian gas supplies that it gets. Another demand Bulgaria has for Gazprom is removing the intermediaries in the gas trade.
A major issue of contention with respect to the South Stream pipe in Bulgaria has been the insistence on part of the Russian side that the pipeline use Bulgaria’s existing gas pipe network.
It is still unclear whether the Bulgarian government might make its participation in South Stream conditional on the acceptance of its gas trade demands by Gazprom.
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