Putin stresses importance of unblocking South Stream

It is important to unblock the situation around the South Stream gas pipeline that will make a weighty contribution to Europe’s energy security, Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in an interview with the Serbian newspaper Politika.

“I feel confident this project will contribute considerably to the comprehensive energy security of Europe,” he said. “Everyone stands to gain from it – Russia and the European consumers including Serbia as well.

The problem of gas transit via Ukraine is still in place and its obvious solution is to diversify gas supply routes, Putin said.

“If we speak about further prospects of Russian gas exports to Europe, obviously, the problem of transit via the Ukrainian territory still exists,” he said. “One of the evident solutions is to diversify supplies routes.”

He stressed that Russia was ready to “continue constructive talks on those subjects”.

Also Putin hopes the European Commission (EC) will soon settle the issue of using the OPAL gas pipeline to full capacity.

“We hope that the European Commission will finally settle the issue of the full-capacity use of the OPAL gas pipeline,” he said in an interview with newspaper Politika.

South Stream gas pipeline project is expected to bring new investment to Serbia and to beef up its energy security, believes Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said it on Wednesday in an interview with the Serbian daily Politika on the eve of his official visit to Belgrade.

“Implementation of the South Stream project should bring in no less than 2 billion to Serbia in the form of new investment and to beef up its energy security considerably,” Putin said.

South Stream is a global infrastructural project steered by Russia’s major producer and exporter of natural gas, OAO Gazprom. The pipeline that is destined to have a throughput capacity of 63 billion cubic meters /bcm/ will stretch across the floor of the Black Sea to reach the countries of Southern and Central Europe.

Its land-surface part will cross the territories of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria.

In autumn 2013, the European Commission launched what it called an antitrust investigation targeting the South Stream, which it said stood at variance with the norms of the EU’s “third energy package”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov said the South Stream project would come under discussion at the talks in Belgrade and preparations for building the Serbian section of the future pipeline were underway.

“The Serbs are making it clear that implementation of the project without consent from Brussels will be impossible in principle although they are fully ready for this /implementation/ and the project is of big interest for them,” Ushakov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that Russian-Serbian trade will reach 2 billion dollars this year.

He said that a free trade regime existing between the two countries was contributing to steady development of Russian-Serbian economic ties.
“Our reciprocal trade turnover grew by 15% to reach 1.97 billion dollars in 2013. It grew by another 16.5% to reach 1.2 billion dollars in the first half of 2014. We hope to reach the figure of 2 billion dollars this year” Putin stressed.

Positive dynamics can be seen in the sphere of investments. The total volume of Russian capital investments in Serbia has exceeded 3 billion dollars, the bulk of which was channeled into the strategically important energy sector, Putin told Politika.

“The Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) oil company is a graphic example of our successful cooperation. It was a loss-making company that has turned into the main donor to the Serbian state budget,” Putin stressed.

The Russian head of state also said that the Russian Railways Company and the Russian credit support were enabling Serbia to modernize its railway infrastructure.

“I am glad that Serbian businessmen are active conquering the Russian market. For example, they are supplying quality agrarian and industrial products,” Putin stressed.

Earlier this month, Serbia suggested introducing a free trade regime for food products. According to Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, Russia is thinking of lifting import duties for sugar, cigarettes, alcohol and poultry meat. The Russian Agriculture Ministry is considering a possibility of granting preferences to agricultural imports from Serbia.

Russia continues to regard Europeans as partners despite statements from Brussels, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Source: ItarTASS