Outgoing Croatian President Stjepan Mesic could become head of a company to build Croatia's segment of the South Stream gas pipeline, if Zagreb joins the project, Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List reported on Sunday.
Mesic received the proposal when he visited Moscow in mid-December to discuss joint energy projects, the paper said.
"Russia would like to see the leading positions in the South Stream and Nord Stream gas pipelines to be held by former high-placed officials of the countries, across which these pipelines will pass," the paper said.
The Nord Stream pipeline, which will pump gas from Siberia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, bypassing East European transit countries, is being built jointly by Gazprom, Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall, and Dutch gas transportation firm Gasunie at an estimated cost of $12 billion.
The shareholder's committee of Nord Stream AG, the project operator, is chaired by former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The South Stream project, designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, involves Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece. The pipeline's capacity could be eventually increased to 63 billion cubic meters annually.
Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev earlier said that negotiations on Croatia's part in the South Stream project could be completed in the first quarter of 2011.
Croatia consumes about 3.2 billion cubic meters of gas annually, with 60% of this amount covered by internal resources and the other 40% imported from Russia.
Mesic steps down on February 18 after serving two five-year terms.
SARAJEVO, January 10 (RIA Novosti)