site.btaPresidents of Bulgaria, Serbia Attend Start of Construction on Bulgarian Side of Bulgaria-Serbia Gas Interconnector
Presidents Rumen Radev of Bulgaria and Alexandar Vucic of Serbia Wednesday attended the start of construction works on the Bulgarian side of the Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector. The two heads of State held a meeting that was also attended by Bulgarian Energy Minister Rosen Hristov and the CEO of gas infrastructure company Bulgartransgaz, Vladimir Malinov. After that the two Presidents were shown round the project.
The construction of the Bulgaria - Serbia gas interconnector is a project of strategic significance which offers the region new opportunities for diversification and security of supplies, President Rumen Radev said.
He called it "yet another step in deepening relations with neighbouring Serbia and the advancement of the entire region".
In the President's words, the interconnector is a token of the two countries' wish to build together a vision of their shared European future based on solidarity, mutual trust and support, innovative approaches and new technologies.
"This project is an example of how our sustainable cooperation with the European Commission leads to shared benefits - and not only for our two countries. It offers new opportunities for the region through real diversification and secure deliveries. It is an example of successful implementation of the European strategy for accessible energy," Radev said.
In his words, Serbia's success to maintain and build new connections with the neighbouring countries, has become a success for Bulgaria, thanks to the interconnector, because it gains broader access to the European markets.
He also recalled that Bulgaria proposed to the European Commission that aid be made available for stabilizing the energy systems of the Western Balkans.He said that gas interconnectors in the region are more than infrastructure projects: "they open up opportunities, they are a symbol of the potential of the region for future development". "They mean security, cooperation, diversification, the road and the key to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous environment in this region."
President Vucic said that "friends like Serbia and Bulgaria can do big and important common projects like this interconnector". He thanked the Bulgarian President for his friendly attitude to Serbia and said that Bulgaria has a loyal, good and trustworthy friend in Serbia, in good times and bad times".
Vucic also thanked the European Union for the support. "We received a grant of EUR 49 million and another EUR 25 million provided by the European Investment Bank. Bulgaria receives EUR 218 million. We [in Serbia] can't dream of receiving that much for energy infrastructure but one day it will be possible for us, too," Vucic said.
He expressed hope that construction on both sides of the border will be completed in October so that gas can start flowing before the year's end.
During the ceremony for the start of construction, Bulgarian Energy Minister Rosen Hristov said that Bulgaria is at a crossroads, which is both a strategic advantage and a responsibility. "Bulgaria assumed its responsibility to be a guarantor for security in the energy sector, not only for itself but for the entire region," he said.
Beatrice Coda, Head of Unit at the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency, said that it is a project of strategic importance for raising security, diversifying gas supplies and ensuring connectivity of the gas networks of Bulgaria and Serbia. The project is important for Bulgaria, the region and the EU as a whole, she said.
In a video message, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said that Bulgaria was among the first countries which had its gas supplies suspended by Gazprom, and it grabbed that opportunity to diversify supplies.
The Bulgaria-Serbia Gas Interconnection will be 170 km long from Novi Iskur (Bulgaria) to Nis (Serbia), of which 62 km will be on Bulgarian territory. The gas interconnection will have a capacity of up to 1.8 bmc per year and will allow a reverse flow. The gas interconnection is a project of common interest for the European Union and is funded under the Connecting Europe Facility.
The interconnector is expected to be completed by the start of the next heating season.