EU: South Stream is not priority

— The European Union is not considering freezing South Stream but the construction of this pipeline is not a priority.

This is what a European Commission (EC) official has told Tanjug in Brussels.

The Commission will support the construction of any pipeline under the condition that it is built by European standards, Sabine Berger, spokeswoman for Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, told Tanjug.

She refused to comment on a Tuesday article published by the British daily Telegraph, which stated that EC President Jose Manuel Barroso announced during a recent visit to Bulgaria that European Union is set to freeze the South Stream project.

“We never comment on media reports dealing with private conversations by European officials,” she said.

The spokeswoman said, however, that South Stream’s construction is not a priority for the EU.

Our priority is to find new gas exporting countries to encourage diversification of supply, said Berger.

She told Tanjug that the EU and Russia are holding working group level talks aimed at bringing bilateral agreements on the pipeline’s construction signed between Russia’s Gazprom and six EU member states in compliance with EU regulations.

“Of course, a wider context of the European Union’s relations with Russia must be taken into account here,” Berger said.

It is rumored in Brussels that the next few days can prove vital to the future of the relationship.

The European Council warned Russia last month that it will face comprehensive economic sanctions if it fails to take steps to de-escalate the Ukrainian crisis.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said yesterday that foreign ministers of the EU member states will discuss possible new measures against Russia in Luxembourg on April 14.

The Telegraph reported yesterday that the European Union is “close to freezing plans to complete the USD 50 billion South Stream gas pipeline through the Black Sea from Russia.”

The South Stream construction is underway in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia, and its main section should pass through Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.

Commenting on media reports, Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said on Wednesday that Serbia will do everything possible to protect its economic and vital national interests, but it is not among the most influential players and cannot decide on the most important issues related to the South Stream project.(Tanjug)