Bulgaria is deliberately delaying the extension of the Turkish Stream pipeline through its territory, said Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday.
“Despite the numerous assurances and requests to the Russian side to supply our gas through Turkey to Bulgaria, we are seeing that the Bulgarian side, as sad and strange as it sounds, is deliberately prolonging the implementation of the project in its territory. I want to talk about this directly and publicly,” said Putin.
He drew attention to the fact that Bulgaria’s leadership has already disrupted the implementation of the South Stream project, after which it requested the commissioning of the Turkish Stream project.
“But here, too, apparently, under external pressure they are taking their time with the construction. We’ll see how the realization of this project proceeds in Bulgarian territory. If the Bulgarian leadership doesn’t want it, we will find other ways to realize our capabilities in the south of Europe,” the Russian president added.
The Turkish Stream project is a gas pipe with two lines, each with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters per year. Initially, four lines were planned – one for Turkey and three for transit to Europe. However, Ankara refused to become a major gas transiter, and Russia was forced to halve the scope of the project.
The first line was intended for the transit of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, the second for countries in South-Eastern Europe. Gazprom is considering Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary as potential markets. In November, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that gas would start to reach Serbia from Bulgaria through the Turkish Stream pipeline by May 2020.