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South Stream gas project problems merely political — Bulgaria ex-president

June 27, 2014, 10:55 UTC+3 SOFIA
South Stream gives additional guarantees for Bulgaria and other EU member states, he adds
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©  EPA/SERGEI KARPUKHIN / POOL

SOFIA, June 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Problems which the construction project of a gas pipeline South Stream faced are merely political, former Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, who occupied this post from 2002 to 2012, believes.

South Stream “is economically profitable, gives guarantees of security to Bulgarian energy industry, has a positive effect on the social sphere and gives additional guarantees for Bulgaria and other EU member states,” he said in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS.

Therefore, he “hoped that Bulgarian government will show the strength of its character as several other countries did.” “But instead of this Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski’s statement came absolutely unexpected, as the latter instructed to halt South Stream,” Parvanov added. “Obviously Bulgaria becomes a hostage of geostrategic games,” he believes.

The former president said he was puzzled with the position which the EU leadership had taken, “stating that there will be no South Stream unless Russia and Ukraine settle their disagreements.” “Why does no one raise a question about Nord Stream in this situation?” Parvanov asked the rhetoric question, noting that “As there is a northern gas pipeline, so, there should be a southern one as well.”

The Bulgarian politician is convinced that his country needs a strong energy industry which will not be able to develop comprehensively without gas pipeline construction projects among which “South Stream is the most promising.”

South Stream is a global infrastructure project of Russian energy giant Gazprom building a gas pipeline at a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres through the Black Sea to Southern and Central European countries to diversify gas export routes and eliminate transit risks.

Infographics Russian gas in Europe Russian gas in Europe
One-third of gas consumed in EU comes from Russia. Infographics ITAR-TASS
The European Commission is concerned that this project will increase considerably Russia’s influence in Europe and will not allow implementing a competing European gas pipeline project of “a southern corridor” which should connect Europe and Central Asia bypassing Russia. In the autumn of the previous year the European Commission has launched an anti-monopoly probe against South Stream which, according to its estimates, contradicts the EU third energy package rules. However, the European Commission neglected the fact that intergovernmental agreements on South Stream had been concluded back in 2008, so, a year before the third energy package, which is retrospective despite world legal practice, took effect.

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