MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. The European Union should provide its members, willing to receive Russian gas via the TurkStream pipeline, with guarantees of non-interference into this project, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Serbia’s Politika newspaper in the run-up to his visit to Belgrade.
"Gazprom has been looking into different variants of extending the land-based transit leg of the [TurkStream] pipeline further toward Europe, and one of them envisages transporting the fuel via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to eventually reach the gas transportation hub in Baumgarten, Austria," he said. "In this case, Serbia will not only receive Russian gas but will also be involved in transiting it."
"Naturally, this will seriously benefit the Serbian economy, create new jobs, increase the energy security of your country and the of the entire Central European and South-East European region," Putin added.
"Surely, the European Commission’s stance will be taken into account while making the final decision on the route of Russian gas supplies," the Russian president added. "We believe that EU member states, interested in receiving Russian gas, should get the European Union’s guarantees that plans of extending the TurkStream pipeline will not be disrupted by arbitrary political decisions from Brussels."
The Russian president said that the TurkStream project construction proceeds according to the schedule.
"We expect to completely put the pipeline into service by the end of 2019," he said.
In his interview, Putin also noted the positive trend of the Russian-Serbian economic cooperation in general. Bilateral trade stood at $2 billion in 2017, and continued to further increase last year. Russian investment in the Serbian economy has topped $4 billion, he said.
He said that cooperation is under way in other areas as well.
"I’m convinced that this kind of fruitful, multi-dimensional cooperation fully corresponds to the key interests of the people of Russia and Serbia," Putin said.