We can be trusted on energy: Russian President
Russia and the EU are both seeking to strengthen their foothold in South East Europe, which stands to become a major gas and oil transit hub.
South East Europe – once a meeting point of ancient trade routes – now vies to become a crossroad for oil and gas pipelines.
Sandwiched between Europe and Asia, the Balkans is also trapped between two disparate views on energy: reliability vs. diversification.
“Over the last forty years, regardless of serious global changes, Russia has not violated a single contract obligation – ever. In 2006, Russia supplied 73 BLN cubic meters of gas to South and South East Europe. This is almost half of all the volume supplied to the European Union. Oil supplies reached 59 MLN tons. These figures are a solid basis, on which to build our future energy co-operation,” observed Mr Putin.
European Union leaders however have recently warned against over dependence on Russia's energy. To diversify its supply, Europe is planning to build the Nabucco pipeline, linking Turkey and Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. This comes as Russia seeks closer ties with Balkan countries.
In March, Russia signed a deal for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline linking Bulgaria and Greece and bypassing the congested Bosporus. Earlier this month, Greece proposed that Gazprom lays a gas pipeline along the same route.
And, just this past weekend, Russia and Italy signed a memorandum to build a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe across the Black Sea.
“It is a project which is destined to potential markets both in Italy and in Central and Southern Europe including the final destination in Baugarten, which will become one of the major European gas hubs with participation of Gasprom,” stated Aleksandr Medvedev, deputy CEO of Gazprom.
Russia is also interested in building underground gas storage facilities in several Balkan cities.