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Putin cutting Sofia from energy plans?

Aug. 24, 2009 at 12:20 PM   |   Comments

SOFIA, Bulgaria, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may be cutting Bulgaria out of his energy plans despite deals on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

Kostis Hatzidakis, the Greek minister of development, said the new Bulgarian government of Boyko Borisov, who took the premiership in July, would keep the agreements made by his predecessor regarding the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

Hatzidakis sought to expel rumors the Bulgarian government had pushed back from the project, saying he had no reason to suspect the pipeline would fail.

Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said earlier, however, that Sofia was unable to finance the construction of the pipeline, echoing concerns raised by the former government of Sergei Stanishev in October.

Borisov, however, said recently that he might reconsider his position on Burgas-Alexandroupolis as well as South Stream, a rival to the $10.3 billion Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe.

With Moscow courting South Stream partners and moving toward new hosts in Turkey, Putin may simply cut Bulgaria out of Russian energy plans, the European weekly New Europe reports.

"Putin saw that Bulgaria is trying to play with Russia and I think he will react in his typical style," said Konstantin Simonov, director of the independent National Energy Security Fund in Moscow. "For me, it will be not a sensation if Russia will change the route of South Stream (to avoid Bulgaria)."

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