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BRUSSELS, December 9. /TASS/. European Commissioner for Energy Maros Sefcovic and energy ministers from Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Greece, and Romania meet in Brussels later on Tuesday to discuss the situation around the South Stream gas pipeline project, the cancellation of which was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of a scheduled session of the EU Council of Energy, Transport and Telecommunications Ministers, the last one this year. Serbia, which has not joined the EU yet, and Russia have not been invited.
A source at the European Commission told TASS the meeting would be held in the format of an informal working lunch. The initiative to hold it was put forward by Sefcovic.
According to the source, he proposed to discuss the situation with ministers of the eight countries, for which the South Stream project had significance.
Upon the end of the meeting, the participants were expected to issue a joint statement.
Information available to TASS suggests the European Commission plans to quell the southern European countries’ apprehensions over their energy security and a possible shortage of hydrocarbons.
In part, the Commission will likely reaffirm its priority plans to build and inter-European gas infrastructure in the coming five years. The new pipelines will link the southern countries to Central and Western Europe and this will enable the EU to set up a common gas market and to ensure the throughput of gas to different destinations depending on the actual needs of various regions of the continent.
However, a rather problematic issue of financing of these projects will not be taken up at Tuesday’s meeting.
Sefcovic will also have to reject any compensations from Brussels to the EU member-states in the wake of disruption of the South Stream project.
“The European Commission doesn’t pay compensations for whatever failed projects with third parties,” a spokeswoman said earlier.
The informal meeting on the South Stream takes place in parallel with a three-day official visit of the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Police Federica Mogherini to Turkey, where she is accompanied by the EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commission, Johannes Hahn.
Commission officials say however that Mogherini’s talks in Ankara will not affect the forthcoming discussion of the South Stream in Brussels.
Officially, the agenda of the talks between the European representatives and Turkish officials centers on the assessment of negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the EU, which began in 2005, the progress of bilateral cooperation, and resistance to Isis in Iraq and Syria. Still, unofficial sources suggest Mogherini and Hahn will also seek to assure Turkey’s support for the EU position on sanctions against Russia, although the EU decision-makers scarcely have the hopes that Turkey will join these sanctions.
Also, the Europeans have to get clarifications from Turkey regarding the reorientation of Russian gas projects to it after Moscow cancelled construction of the South Stream pipeline.
President Vladimir Putin said on December 1 that Russia would not build the pipeline in the current conditions. “That’s finished, the project is closed,” Alexei Miller, the CEO of Gazprom told reporters in a comment on Russian-Turkish summit talks.
The South Stream pipeline has the designed throughput capacity for 67 billion cubic meters of gas. At present, the capacity of the Blue Stream pipeline pumping Russian gas to Turkey across the floor of the Black Sea is 16 bcm.
In the past, Turkey has made a number of proposals to Russia to use its territory as the starting point of transit gas supplies to Europe.
Although some high-rank European officials still harbor the hopes that the cancellation of the South Stream is inconclusive, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak believes is it not.
“As far as I can see, a final decision has been taken and we’re already considering construction of the pipeline along a different route,” he said. “This will be a pipeline to Turkey in line with an agreement between the two countries’ Presidents.”.