BELGRADE, June 17 (RIA Novosti) - Serbia “sees no reason” to halt South Stream gas pipeline construction in Europe, according to Serbia’s Foreign Minister.
"If Nord Stream was built in Europe, I see no reason why South Stream cannot be built as well,” First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the country Ivica Dačić said on Tuesday at a press conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
As for another gas pipeline in Serbia, which would connect the Serbian city of Niš to the Bulgarian cities of Dimitrovgrad and Sofia, "it is a separate project, which has nothing to do with South Stream, and its construction has not yet begun," according to the minister.
The Niš-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia pipeline is funded by the EU. Serbia and Bulgaria signed the agreement on the construction of the pipeline in 2012, and its price is estimated at 120 million euros (approximately $ 162.5 million). The pipeline is 180 kilometers long, with a capacity of 1.8 billion cubic meters.
In early June, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transportation, Construction and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlović stated that Serbia needed another new pipeline, apart from South Stream, referencing the Niš-Dimitrovgrad-Sofia project.
The South Stream project is being constructed to diversify export routes for Russian gas to Europe. The pipeline is to transport Russian natural gas across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and other EU countries. The first commercial deliveries via the pipeline are expected in the first quarter of 2016, with the pipeline becoming fully operational in 2018.
The European Commission (EC) insists Russia’s bilateral talks with transit countries Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia violate EU legislation. The EC demanded Bulgaria suspend all work on the construction site of the South Stream until the gas pipeline project complies with the EU Third Energy Package, which stipulates that the companies involved in gas production cannot be the owners of long-distance pipelines located in the region.