Lavrov: Balkans need Turkish Stream

Lavrov: Balkans need Turkish Stream

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project is to improve opportunities for Balkan countries to receive Russian gas.

"We and the Turks seek to improve opportunities for Balkan countries to receive Russian gas. Our the Turkish Stream project has been actively implemented," the top diplomat said in an interview with Serbia’s Beta news agency.

Lavrov also noted the readiness to take any decisions on the Turkish Stream, taking into account the interests of Balkan countries and the European Union, RIA Novosti reports.

The Turkish Stream gas pipeline stipulates laying two stretches with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters a year each. The two pipes will be laid in parallel along the seabed of the Black Sea. One stretch is intended for natural gas deliveries to Turkish consumers and the other will supply Russian natural gas to South and Southeast Europe.

A senior analyst of 'Uralsib Capital', Alexei Kokin, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the Turkish Stream project will allow the Balkans to avoid gas delivery risks. "The Balkan countries, in particular Bulgaria and Greece, receive Russian gas now through Ukraine. And I think Sergei Lavrov primarily spoke about improving the reliability of supplies to these countries to avoid incidents with a gas supply restriction, like it happened 10 years ago due to the conflict with Ukraine on the issue of transit," he said.

At the same time, the expert drew attention to the policy of the EU, which may outweigh the economic benefits from reliable gas supplies through the Turkish Stream. "The issue is  so much politicized that it is even difficult to talk about the prospects for the construction of the Turkish Stream in the Balkans. The countries understand that the security and stability of supplies will increase if this pipeline is built around the potential zones of conflict and disputes. But it is still unclear whether they are ready to pay for this reliability. Balkan direction of Turkish Stream will be realized only if the governments of the countries are confident that they need it," Alexei Kokin stressed.

An associate professor of the Graduate School of Corporate Management of RANEPA, Ivan Kapitonov, agreed with Kokin. "The Balkans are interested in the Turkish Stream, since any country, through whose territory a gas or oil pipeline passes, receives a transit fee - it is a direct, material benefit from the project. In addition, the diversification of export routes conducted by Russia serves primarily to the needs of the European Union, increasing the EU's ability to receive fuel on different routes. Thus, energy security is increasing both in the EU as a whole and in the Balkan Peninsula in particular," he explained.

"We do not know exactly how the political situation in Europe will develop further, but for the time being the probability of building this branch of the pipeline is high. As for the issue of financing, it is the subject of further discussions. Eventually, Gazprom also may help the Balkans with this project," Ivan Kapitonov concluded.