BRUSSELS, June 05. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission (EC) lacks enough powers to delay the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's Ambassador to the EU, told ITAR-TASS in an exclusive interview. He was commenting on the commission's launch of procedures against member-state Bulgaria, accused by Brussels of failing to observe European norms in holding a tender for South Stream's construction.
“The European Commission does not have enough power to do it. But that is not the point. The commission does not have any reason to do it. The violations must be proved for the reasons to appear. The presumption of innocence of the participants of the tender in Bulgaria hasn't been annulled,” Chizhov said.
“I do not know all the details of the tender and how the consortium of Russia and Bulgaria took part in it, but I am sure that in legal terms the participation was adjusted perfectly. The project is too serious,” he added.
This week the European Commission demanded that Bulgaria freeze laying the Russia-led South Stream pipeline until this project meets European legislation, while EC head Jose Manuel Barroso threatened EU states that will participate in the project with sanctions.
The Bulgarian government said the project complied with the laws. Brussels also suspected Bulgaria of "breaking European rules for the holding of tenders for infrastructure construction projects" and of granting "preferential possibilities for Russian and Bulgarian companies".
The South Stream pipeline will carry Russian gas to the EU bypassing Ukraine. Gas will be pumped to the Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Varna before extending overland through Serbia, Hungary, and Slovenia to supply gas to the Western Europe via Italy and Austria. The pipeline’s capacity amounts to 63 billion cubic meters.