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3/24/2015

Bulgaria says EU will back pipeline with Greece

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (R) with European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic in Sofia, February 9, 2015. On March 20, Borisov said in Brussels Sefcovic had assured him IGB would be financed with EU funds.


Πηγή: NewEurope
By Kostis Geropoulos
March 24 2015

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said that European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic had assured him that the gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) would be financed with EU funds.

“I think we will be able to build the Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnector with European money. I have Sefcovic’s assurance, and that of all colleagues, that the interconnector will be financed by the European Commission,” Borisov said after a European Council meeting in Brussels, according to a Bulgaria government press release posted on its website on March 20.

The European Commission could not confirm what exactly has been said by Sefcovic, however, as regards the Central and Southeast Europe, European Commission energy spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen reminded that the High Level Group on Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC) kicked off its work in February, and the regional sub-groups have started their work.

“The high level group’s objective is to establish regional priority infrastructure and advance its implementation. As regards Bulgaria, the Commission recognises its particular vulnerability as regards its energy security of supply. This was also what the recent stress tests have shown,” Itkonen told New Europe on March 23.

She noted that the European Commission remains committed to integrating the South Eastern European gas markets, including Bulgaria, by putting in place necessary infrastructure and implementing regional projects. However, Itkonen stressed that it is crucial that Bulgaria and other countries in the region swiftly complete projects already underway and speed up development of projects of common interest identified as being of strategic importance.

The €220-million IGB pipeline, which will be 182 kilometres long, will start in the northeastern Greek city of Komotini and end at Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. It will carry 3 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually in its initial stage and will have a maximum capacity of 5 billion cubic metres per year. It will eventually be connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), carrying natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Greece.

IGB, which is scheduled to be operational by 2018, is an essential part of a vertical gas corridor connecting Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, which the three countries have committed to develop. Parallel to that, Bulgaria and Serbia have stepped up work on a gas interconnector linking the two countries.

Bulgaria is working on a number of other gas projects to ensure its gas diversification, Borisov also said in Brussels.

Peter Poptchev, a long-time Bulgarian ambassador-at-large for energy security, told New Europe on March 23 that Borissov’s statement should be read to mean that additional funds to the ones received under the Recovery Programme seem to have been “promised”, probably with the argument that by far the larger part of IGB is in Bulgaria.

He reminded that Bulgarian Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova pledged to accelerate the construction of IGB, for the time being by a year and finish it in 2018. “My own preference is that this is done by 2017, not that by then there will be new gas but this interconnection is a landmark one for the three countries and the region and it should be seen as a step in building the Energy Union in the region,” Poptchev said, referring to the plans spearheaded by Sefcovic to create a single market for power and gas, based on better connections between member states.


Turkey Sees Russia as 'Rising Power' – Turkish Economist



Πηγή: Sputnik
March 24 2015

Turkey did not join the United States, the European Union and a number of their allies in imposing economic sanctions on Moscow after Crimea had reunited with Russia a year ago.



© FLICKR/ DMITRY TEREKHOV
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Turkey considers Russia to be a "rising power" as the two countries look to extend their cooperation despite different stances on the Syrian Civil War, Turkey's leading economist and EU expert told Sputnik Tuesday.


"Turkey, despite its economic difficulties mainly due to the sanctions, has the tendency to regard Russia as a rising power, especially when compared with the West," Nilgun Arisan Eralp, director of the EU Institute at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, said.

Turkey did not join the United States, the European Union and a number of their allies in imposing economic sanctions on Moscow after the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted to break away from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March 2104.

Eralp also said that the European Union remained Turkey's biggest trade and investment partner, but cooperation with Russia was also growing.



© AP PHOTO/ MURAD SEZER, FILE
"For the moment energy seems to be the main area where there can be real big-scale cooperation, especially after Russia's recent abandonment of South Stream in favor of Turkish Stream," the expert said.

In December 2014, Russia closed its long-time South Stream project, citing Brussels' opposition to the gas pipeline. Instead, Russian energy giant Gazprom and Turkish pipeline corporation Botas agreed to construct a Black Sea gas pipeline with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.

The first leg of the Turkish Stream pipeline is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.

Turkey is a NATO member and supports "moderate" Syrian opposition, fighting against President Bashar Assad, unlike Moscow.


Russia warns US against sending missile defence system to South Korea



Πηγή: Business Recorder
March 24 2015

MOSCOW: Russia on Tuesday warned the United States against sending a ballistic missile defence system to South Korea, saying it could threaten regional security.

Washington says it wants to deploy the system, known as THAAD, to South Korea as a deterrent to military provocation by North Korea.

"Such a development cannot but cause concern about the destructive influence of the United States' global missile defence on international security," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In a region where the situation is already extremely complicated in terms of security, this could serve as another push toward an arms race in northeast Asia and further complicate any resolution of the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula," the statement said.

China has also already warned that deployment of the system would undermine peace and stability in the region.

Faced with growing isolation from the West over the Ukraine crisis, Russia has moved to bolster ties with former Cold War-ally North Korea.

Moscow and Pyongyang have named 2015 a "year of friendship" between the two countries and the Kremlin says reclusive leader Kim Jong-Un is set to make his first official trip abroad to visit Russia's World War Two victory commemoration in May.

South Korea and the United States will launch a massive landing drill March 28 as the climax of an ongoing joint military exercise which North Korea views as an invasion rehearsal.