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Bulgarian economy minister convinced South Stream project to be implemented

June 09, 2014, 14:57 UTC+3 SOFIA

"No one challenges the implementation of the South Stream project or its necessity now," Dragomir Stoynev says

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© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

SOFIA, June 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Bulgaria's Minister of Economy and Energy Dragomir Stoynev says he is convinced that the South Stream project plans to pipe gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then ashore for onward transit to Greece, Italy and Austria will be implemented.

“South Stream looks like an irreversible European project. The question is not whether it will be implemented or not, but in what way it happens,” said Stoynev on Monday, currently on a visit to China. “Over one year of work, I have accomplished my task and I have taken the South Stream project to a new level. No one challenges the implementation of the South Stream project or its necessity now.”

“There is a consolidated position in support of the project in the energy ministries of Hungary, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, where the pipeline routes will pass through. We will confirm this during an Energy Council meeting in Luxembourg at the end of this week,” Stoynev said, adding that European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was entitled to hold negotiations with Russia on ways to implement the project.

“Looking at the situation strategically and in a temperate manner, the South Stream project seems irreversible rather than otherwise, which is important both for Europe and for Bulgaria,” the minister said. “Current disputes concern the matter of how this European project will be implemented. I am sure we will find a solution in a broader political context,” he added.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski on Sunday ordered to suspend the work on South Stream project over the European Commission’s infringement proceedings. He announced this at a briefing after a meeting with American senators. Oresharski said the project’s future would be clarified “after additional consultations with Brussels”.

On June 2, the European Commission announced its plans to suspend the South Stream project in European Union countries, firstly in Bulgaria. Sabine Berger, spokesperson of European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger, said the European Commission had two legal grounds for such step. She said the European Commission had complaints about the project's conformity to norms of the EU's regulatory “third energy package”. 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”.

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