SEE gas market: The Balkans is becoming increasingly important because of Ukraine

19. May 2014. / SEE Energy News

Because of the crisis in Ukraine, the countries of Southeast Europe are becoming increasingly important for the energy security of the continent.

At the time when the Ukrainian crisis makes uncertain gas supply from Russia via Ukraine, countries of Southeast Europe are becoming increasingly important for Europe’s energy security, the Parliaments’ presidents and delegations of twelve countries in the region said on Saturday in Bucharest.

Gathered in the Cooperation Process in South East Europe (SECCP), in the capital of Romania, they participated in the inaugural session of the Parliamentary Assembly of that initiative launched in 1996.

A new step in the institutionalization of a SECCP should strengthen political cooperation and in the field of infrastructure, transport, the fight against organized crime as well, and in particular in energy through development of interconnections and diversify sources of gas.

“It is clearer than ever before that the energy security is an European priority. That is why our region is more and more important because we are a transit area for gas from the east,” the chairman of the SEECP, Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Korlatean said.

The president of the Croatian Parliament Josip Leko believes that the Ukrainian crisis has manifold impact on the region and the whole of Europe. “The situation in Ukraine adversely, in our area, has affected the political, economic, and especially in the field of security, especially energy,” he said.

The situation in Ukraine prompted the EU’s efforts to reduce energy dependence on Russia, while Moscow has long been trying to reduce reliance on Ukraine as a major route for gas exports to Europe, its largest market.

The future of South Stream, 2.400 kilometers route of pipeline from Russia via the Black Sea to southern Europe, avoiding Ukraine, has been brought into question because of a dispute between the EU and Russia after the Russian annexation of the Crimea.

The EU decision to freeze talks on the construction of the South Stream, particularly affected southern EU countries, such as Bulgaria, members of the SEECP as well, which are almost totally dependent on Russian gas.
“The situation in our neighborhood does not only affect the security, but also to the economic development of our region,” the chairman of the Bulgarian Parliament Mihail Mikov said.

The South Stream should be go through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia, delivering gas to Italy and its completion is expected by the end of this decade. Recently, Austria has joined in the project.

Along with the South Stream, the Ukrainian crisis has given even greater importance to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), by which could transport gas from Azerbaijan to Italy via Greece and Albania, having prongs toward Croatia and Montenegro.

SEECP are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro and Slovenia.

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