Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during the latter’s visit to Ankara, Dec. 1. AA Photo
Bulgarian authorities creating difficulties is the main reason why Russia scrapped the South Stream pipeline project, Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during their meeting on Dec. 1, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.
“I am fed up with Bulgarians. Having the West and the European Union at their back, they are challenging and opposing us. They are delaying the project,” Putin reportedly told Erdoğan during the Turkey-Russia High-Level Cooperation Council meeting.
The Russian president announced the end of the much-anticipated South Stream pipeline project at a joint press conference with Erdoğan on Dec. 1. The project was planned to carry 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas to European markets via a pipeline under the Black Sea and Bulgaria.
Putin’s unexpected statement created shockwaves not only in Moscow, but also in Sofia, which was expecting to earn some 400 million euros as a transit country.
Putin’s declaration came as a surprise, as even his closest right-hand men heard about the cancelation of the project through his talks with the Erdoğan-led Turkish team. The scrapping of the South Stream project pushed Putin and Erdoğan to explore new routes for the pipeline, and both leaders have agreed to begin technical work for the construction of a new pipeline from Russia to Turkey. Around 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas is predicted to be marketed through a gas terminal to be located on the Turkish-Greek border…
Eastern European nations reacted with shock and anger to Russia’s decision to abandon South Stream, its $50bn gas pipeline across the Black Sea into Europe, as shares in some of the companies involved in the project dived.
Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary said they had received no advance warning that Moscow was scrapping South Stream, even though they all have substantial financial and political capital invested. Russia said it would export its gas to a trade hub in Turkey instead.
South Stream is so far the biggest casualty of the stand-off between Russia and Europe over Moscow’s military involvement in Ukraine.
The much-vaunted project, backed by Russia’s state-controlled gas group Gazprom, was designed to bring Russian gas into Europe by bypassing Ukraine. It gained momentum after a series of price disputes between Moscow and Kiev over the past decade led to supply cuts for some of Gazprom’s European customers.
But there were fears in Brussels that the pipeline would cement Gazprom’s domination of the European gas market. The European Commission insisted that other gas suppliers be given access to South Stream, arguing that the idea of Gazprom both providing the gas and owning the pipeline violated EU competition rules.
However, the project was backed by several countries in southeastern Europe, which saw it as a way to improve their energy security. They also looked forward to earning money from transit fees for South Stream’s gas as it crossed their territory.
I trust no will continue to entertain ridiculous notions about Russia being a protector of Christianity (even the Orthodox version) now that he has decided to become good pals with Erdoğan.