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Commissioner Guenter Oettinger 1:1

Published on , , Sofia

Part of the European Energy Commissioner's speech at the Black Sea Energy forum in Sofia on Tuesday was in German. Guenter Oettinger preferred his native tongue to talk about his meeting with the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov the evening before, which lasted a long time, according to Borisov himself. euinside offers you the full text of the German part of the speech:

"More specifically about the Bulgarian issues after my talks with the premier and my meetings yesterday and today (1st and 2nd of March) - I prefer to tell you about in German. Bulgaria is not just a separate market, it's not just a country with customers, industry, infrastructure. Bulgaria has a much bigger significance for the EU then it might seem to you if you just look at the size of the population or the GDP. Bulgaria has a very important geopolitical position for the EU in terms of our policy towards the Middle East, Asia and the Russian Federation. This year the Bulgarian government has to take important decisions. Please, do take these decisions after coordination with the EU. My ambition is each decision of your government and your parliament, and your nation, to be in full harmony with the European policy*.

This is why we have to consider this day as a kind of prelude towards a coordinated and full of mutual trust dialogue. This includes, on the one hand, gas infrastructure. We, the European Union, are greatly dependent on import of gas and currently we do not have the appropriate infrastructure which we can rely on to deliver to us enough quantities of gas in the long-term. This is about capacity and about quality. The technical quality of the current gas pipelines is not stable in the long term. Even on this issue only, there is great uncertainty. And the capacity is not enough for the needs of member states in the long-term. This is why the EU supports the Nord Stream - a new gas pipeline which means increased capacity.

This is why we think that South Stream should be realised. This is right in terms of quantities, of increased capacity, of our needs because thus we can reduce our dependence on technical quality. And Nabucco is a project which could offer not only capacity, not only new technology and quality but also new dimension - the Caspian dimension and the Middle East - the EU's new gas fields. Nabucco is most of all a European project. Decision is to be taken this year on these infrastructure plans. All participants - investors and energy enterprises in the participant-states expect the decisions to be taken this year. We will prepare them in the coming weeks.

EU's task here is most of all intermediary, allowing all sides to win - the countries that own the gas depots - Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and others for Nabucco, the Russian Federation for South Stream and the transit states as well as the nations which will receive the gas, the energy companies form the EU which are responsible for investments. I believe that it is possible for us to harmonise Bulgaria's interests with those of the EU on all issues related to gas infrastructure.

Even more sensitive and pressing is the issue of nuclear energy and Belene - and that is how to coordinate Bulgaria's policy with the EU in the coming weeks. With regard to Belene you and we are in the beginning. There are plans, there are agreements, preliminary investments, contracts which oblige us. And in a democracy, the principle of succession is a basic one. Trust can be built on succession of the government's actions. This is why I think that in coming weeks the opportunity to analyse Bulgaria's energy market and the markets in the neighbouring countries must be seized so as to help the development of a business plan only on this foundation. An opportunity can be created for private energy companies to take part too.

For the EU the Russian Federation is a partner. This helps peace, world trade and energy too. This also helps the gas and it could help the electricity too. This is why, Mr Prime Minister, in the coming weeks we will coordinate with pleasure your steps and our steps with regard to nuclear energy so that this year the necessary decisions can be taken. This applies both for the gas and the electricity. I wish the forum success and I am grateful for the invitation to take part in it. I'd be happy to come again in Sofia to discuss with you Bulgaria's energy and foreign policy which are of great importance to the EU".

More about the developments regarding Belene and the increased geopolitical interest towards Bulgaria by key global actors like the US, the EU and Russia, you can read in the links right from this article.

*The underlinings are made by euinside.

comments
Andriy
4 March 2010 09:40
"South Stream could be backed by the European Commission on condition that it meets the technical requirements for security," – prominent words for a new Russian lobbyist. Of course, South Stream will meet technical requirements, because it will be built by Italian companies, well experienced in working on the sea. And it would be no surprise, if pipes would be of German origin, enhancing security of the construction even more. But Mr. Commissioner forgot that the threat of stoppage is not of the technical nature, at least it was not during events of January 2006 and 2009. It was a sole political decision, made by Russian authorities in order to cover own problems with gas shortage through imitation of a commercial dispute with Ukrainian counterpart and to punish Ukrainian authorities for independent estimations of Russia’s activities in the Caucasus region. According to international law, international arbitration proceedings between two commercial entities should be launched, while parties continue to work under conditions of the previously signed long-term agreements.
The words of Mr. Oettinger can be interpreted only as an intension to press on Bulgaria in order to change negative attitude of the current authorities to the proposed South Stream pipeline. Nevertheless, Prime-Minister of Bulgaria is aware that the direct gas supply from Russia means not only maintenance of current nearly 90% dependence on Russian gas, but also threat to lose own transit and distribution pipeline infrastructure and be obliged to remain for ever a “good friend” to Russia, without right on own independent point of view.
Andriy Chubyk,
Centre for Global Studies Strategy XXI
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