Sofia Echo


Putin wants Borissov to clarify Bulgaria’s stance on Russian energy projects

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Wed, Sep 02 2009 3 Comments, 2866 Views
Share: share on Twitter share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn
Print Send via email

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a meeting on September 1 2009 that Sofia would respond to Putin’s request for clarity on Bulgaria’s stance on joint energy projects with Russia after it had studied details of contracts signed by its predecessor government.
Borissov was one of a succession of European heads of government with whom Putin held meetings on the sidelines of a ceremony in Poland commemorating the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2.
The Government headed by Borissov, which took office in July 2009, has on several occasions signalled reservations about the undertakings made by it predecessors on projects like South Stream, Bourgas-Alexandroupolis and the Belene nuclear power station project.
According to Russian media reports, Putin demanded that Borissov clarify in the shortest possible time Bulgaria’s stance on the projects.
"If for any reason, your government decides that some of the projects are not in the interests of Bulgaria, this would cause no problems in our relations. We will find other projects on which we can co-operate," Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Putin as telling Borissov.
Russian media, however, said that Putin was saying, in reality, that he would pull the plug on joint projects with Bulgaria if he was not satisfied with Sofia’s answers.
A statement by the Bulgarian Government after the meeting said that a Russian working group would come to Sofia to meet Bulgarian officials on the bilateral commitments on the projects made thus far.
The statement said that detailed knowledge of the contracts and the commitments represented by them would take between two and three months.
According to Russian media, Putin raised as an example the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, intended to be 280km long and which has been under discussion for seven years. "Just say ‘no’ and it will be over," Putin said.
In contrast, Dnevnik quoted Putin as telling Borissov, Russia had taken just two years to build a pipeline system from Eastern Siberia to China, a distance of 1500km, and would soon extend it a further 2000km to the Pacific Ocean.
Borissov said that part of the complexity of the issue about the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline was environmental concerns, and there already had been two local referendums initiated by opponents of the project.
"The Bulgarian public must be persuaded that the project is beneficial for Bulgaria," Borissov said. Overall, given that his party GERB did not have a decisive majority in Parliament, it would be possible to go ahead with the various projects only if sufficient MPs could be persuaded that the projects were good for Bulgaria.
Borissov said that there were "no problems" with South Stream, but the biggest issue of concern to the Bulgarian Government was the Belene project.

  • Gazprom drives hard bargain for South Stream gas pipeline
  • Medvedev’s deals in Serbia
  • Stalling time
  • In the balance
  • World War 2 commemoration in Gdansk
  • Bulgaria to announce next move on Belene in September 2009 – Energy Minister
  • Bulgarian PM Borissov: I invited Putin to come to Sofia in November to talk on energy issues
  • Energy minister says Belene nuke not vital for Bulgaria
  • Energy rethink
  • Purvanov's plea for Russian energy projects
  • Borissov asks for moratorium on big energy deals
    • Anonymous
      Peggy Rating:
      #3 12, 29, Wed, Oct 21 2009

      I suppose Putin is saying you can't sit on the fence forever.
      You have to make a decision but EU being the big bully won't let you.

      Thank God Serbia is not in the EU and by the time they are even close to it they may see EU for what it truly is. A dictatorship.

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #2 21, 13, Wed, Sep 02 2009

      Lol, I am still musing over the body language;)))
      Putin: - well, where is it?
      Boyko: - I am empty handed!

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #1 21, 10, Wed, Sep 02 2009

      I love their expressions.
      Putin looks like about to make him "an offer he can't refuse"...

      "Just say ‘no’ and it will be over," Putin said.
      If only it was that easy in a Democracy... not to mention the EU... Bottom line is that BG needs clarifications from Brussels before clarifying with the Russians.
      If the EU decides to keep the funds frozen, over something BG government can't do anything dramatic about, like corruption, then we'll have to look to the Russians for support with energy projects which we need [...]

      Read the full comment regardless.

      Frankly, the EU can't have it both ways for ever. On one hand they are using BG as a punching bag with their increasingly Euro-sceptic electorate, and holding off support we need, on the other they are pressuring us not to engage the Russians.
      Putin understands this, so he is pressuring himself, as a good businessman.

    To post comments, please, Login or Register.
    Please read the The Sofia Echo forum comments policy.