In the next months Moscow is expected to tighten the pressure towards the new Bulgarian government. The gas supply crisis from the beginning of 2009 showed that Russia knows very well how to utilize the European energy dependence for its political purposes.

 

The PM of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov met Tuesday night in Poland's city of Sopot. The meeting was held after the remembrance ceremonies for the 70th year since the start of World War II. As it was expected earlier, a major topic on the agenda was energy projects between Bulgaria and Russia, particularly the three major joint-projects– South Stream gas pipeline, Belene Nuclear Power Plant and Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

 

Bulgaria and Russia signed the agreements for the three above-mentioned energy projects in January 2008 during the visit of the then Russian President Putin to Sofia. The projects have been supported ardently by Bulgaria's Socialist President, Georgi Parvanov, and the former Prime Minister, Socialist Sergey Stanishev. Upon assuming office in July 2009, two ministers of the new CEDB government of Boyko Borisov declared Bulgaria would review all existing agreements and then make decisions on whether to go ahead with the projects. Those statements provoked a debate on the profitableness of the major Bulgarian-Russian energy joint projects within the country.

 

At the same time the Russian press published analyses that Bulgaria is starting new political course of receding of sphere of influence of the Kremlin. During the meeting with his counterpart Bulgarian PM reaffirmed the intention of the new government in Sofia to reconsider the participation of Bulgaria in the energy projects.

 

Boyko Borisov has stated that he has come to an agreement with Russia PM Vladimir Putin to be ready with the financial estimates for the Belene NPP by November. He also confirmed that he sees no problems with the South Stream gas pipeline project and that he expects it to go ahead as planned. Regarding the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline Borisov stated that the local people in the Burgas region had voted ‘no' in two referendums on the project and that environmental issues had to be taken into consideration. However Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, did not show any vexation about the position of the new Bulgarian government. He just called upon Borisov to make a decision on the realization of the joint energy projects as soon as possible.

 

The Russian Prime Minister also told his Bulgarian counterpart that Russia would understand if for some reason Bulgaria decided to give up one of the projects. Despite of that it could be expected that in the next months Moscow will tighten the pressure toward the new Bulgarian government. The gas supply crisis from the beginning of 2009 showed that Russia knows very well how to utilize the European energy dependence for its political purposes.