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EU asks Russia to go ahead with South Stream

Bulgaria is obliged to stand by its obligations to prepare for construction work and issue the required permissions, Bulgarian Prime Minister said after talks with the EU leaders

SOFIA, December 19. /TASS/. Bulgaria will issue all the required permissions required for starting the construction of the South Stream pipeline and keep working on the project, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said after talks with the leaders of European countries on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels on Friday.

“I have received the full support and understanding of the European Council. Bulgaria should not be held responsible and pay the fines for the project’s termination,” the BNGES news agency quotes Borisov as saying.

The Bulgarian prime minister went to Brussels to discuss with his counterparts further action regarding the South Stream project, abandoned by Russia.

“The answer to my question about South Stream was unequivocal — go ahead with implementing the inter-governmental agreements in order to avoid litigations and penalties and fines that may follow, the way it happened to the Belene nuclear power plant project. From this moment on all other liabilities are the liabilities of the European Union,” Borisov said. “Our country is obliged to stand by its obligations to prepare for construction work, in particular, for the seabed stretch of the pipeline and issue the required permissions,” Borisov said, adding he would now be waiting for a reaction from Gazprom.

“If Gazprom terminates the project despite the permissions issued by Bulgaria, it will be its fault, not Bulgaria’s,” Borisov said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and head of Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, according to the Bulgarian Energy Ministry’s statement, are to hold telephone negotiations over South Stream later on Friday. It is expected that the two ministers may agree on a date of their personal meeting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 1 said that “in the current situation Russia would not implement the South Stream project. Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller declared that the South Stream project was no longer relevant.

“The project is closed. Period,” Miller told the media about Russian-Turkish summit talks on the alternative to South Stream.

The South Stream gas carrier, originally estimated at €15.5 billion, was expected to bring an annual 67 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe.