President Plevneliev Says Unfreezing of South Stream Tied to Russia-EU Dialogue
"To me it is more than clear that the unlocking of South Stream [is tied to] the EU's negotiations with Russia," Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev has said.
In his view it is not clear whether Bulgaria would have lost or won from the South Stream.
Plevneliev was the first to officially comment on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's announcement of Monday evening that the South Stream gas pipeline project would come to a halt due to Bulgaria's decision to freeze it.
South Stream is not a project between Russia and Bulgaria, but between Russia and the EU, Focus News Agency quoted Bulgaria's head of state as saying.
"A decision on South Stream might only be adopted within the Russia-EU framework. The states interested in South Stream have carried out very substantial preparation and have authorized the European Commission to carry out negotiations with the Russian leadership in order to take a decision on this project," Plevneliev added.
He reminded that Bulgaria had not yet signed any agreement on its revenues from the pipeline and therefore does not know what its profit from the project could have been.
Plevneliev called on politicians to avoid a "Belene" scenario. Construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which was to be built by Russia's Atomstroyexport, was abandoned after a decision of the previous GERB-led government not to go on with it.
Bulgaria's head of state reminded that Sofia had ignored for twenty years whether the plant would cost BGN 4 B or BGN 10 B.
He also dismissed claims of a EU-Russia standoff of which the South Stream dispute is allegedly a part, saying the project could be "among the many to become reality if they comply with European law".
In his words, "things are very simple": with the EU being a bloc abiding by the rule of law and Russia, "regrettably... demonstrating supremacy of power, and not of law, during the Ukraine crisis".
The EU has been accusing Russia for months of failing to comply with the Third Energy Package and competition rules when blueprinting the South Stream project.
Russia for its part insisted it has already made arrangements with a the countries to host South Stream's pipes.
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