Bulgarian Minister: South Stream Gas Pipeline Is Irreversible Project
Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev has described the South Stream gas pipeline as an irreversible European project.
Stoynev, who is on a visit to China to attend an investment forum on Central and Eastern Europe, presented comments in response to Sunday's announcement of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski that Bulgaria was suspending the project until the settlement of the disagreements with the EU on it.
He claimed that the disputes over the Bulgarian section of the South Stream gas pipeline were of a predominantly legal character, adding that EU experts would arrive in Sofia at the end of the week to hold talks on the matter.
Stoynev, as cited by the Bulgarian National Radio, explained that Bulgaria had prepared the initial legal arguments in response to the letter of the European Commission as regards the organization of the tender, the intergovernmental agreement and the statute of the South Stream company.
He emphasized that nobody was questioning the implementation of the South Stream gas pipeline any longer and the necessity to build it and assured that Bulgaria had also not given it up.
Bulgaria's Minister of Economy and Energy noted that he had moved the project to a new stage of development in his one year in office, stressing that the necessity to build it was no longer being questioned.
He boasted that his efforts on an EU scale had contributed to the creation of a consolidated pro-South Stream stance of the Energy Ministries of the countries hosting the pipe, including Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.
"We shall reaffirm this stance during the Energy Council in Luxembourg at the end of the week. This stance required Commissioner Oettinger to negotiate with the Russian side on the terms of implementation of the project, not on whether or not it was to be built. This was the efficient move – a common pro-South Stream stance defended through the European Commission. The efforts of separate countries would not have sufficed. As far as I can gather from the information available in China, the US representatives are saying "less Russian participation in the project" and they only find the contractor problematic. At the same time, public opinion in Bulgaria is firmly in favor of the project, with an approval rate of 64% of Bulgarians," Stoynev stated.
"From a strategic and emotion-free perspective, the South Stream gas pipeline seems rather irreversible, which is what is important both for Europe and for Bulgaria. The disputes are currently revolving around the terms of implementation of this European project. I am convinced that they will be resolved, including in a wider political context," he declared.
Stoynev assured that his stance did not clash with Sunday's statement of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, adding that Bulgaria was working actively to settle the open questions with the European Commission, meaning that we had not given it up.
"I was the first one to call for consensus between the political forces on the energy topic and on strategic projects on which we are working in order to ensure continuity with the next governments. It remains to be seen to what extent they are ready to engage in dialogue in an impartial way and without demonstrating partisan ambitions," he said.
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