Serbia backs Russian gas pipeline interests

Russian plans pipeline to Turkey to provide alternatives to Ukraine.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, May 15 (UPI) -- The Serbian foreign minister told his Russian counterpart Friday joining a gas pipeline project through Turkey was in his country's best interests.

"We want to participate in this [Turkish Stream] project," Serbian Foreign Minister Ivaca Dacic said from Moscow. "At present, we can express our readiness for participation in this project because we need reliable gas supplies."


The Kremlin said the Turkish gas project will help ensure European energy security. South Stream, a longer version of the pipeline, was envisioned as a European network before the Russian government pulled it off the table in late 2014.

Russia meets about a quarter of the natural gas needs for the European economy. The majority of that runs through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine, where lingering debt issues and ongoing conflict present risks to traditional energy routes.

Members of the European Parliament in September passed a resolution calling on member states to cancel planned energy sector agreements with Russia, including the South Stream gas pipeline.

In October, potential South Stream host country Serbia said preparatory work for the project was proceeding as planned, but "all other matters" related to the pipeline need to be settled by Russia and Brussels.


Dadic suggested the situation was different now that the Ukrainian crisis was moving into its second year.

"We wouldn't like to find ourselves in a situation in several years when we'll have to look for those who are to blame for the fact that winter has come and there are no more gas supplies via Ukraine," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said European energy security may be at stake with its stance on alternative pipeline options.

"We are not imposing anything on anyone," he said. "We suggest acting on the basis of the opportunities that we have and on the basis of the agreements, which we have reached with Turkey."

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