Bulgarian PM opposes Russia energy projects

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov spoke out Friday against a Russian oil pipeline and a Russian-backed nuclear power plant agreed by the previous government.

Borisov, who has repeatedly expressed reservations about the projects, stopped short of saying the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the Belene nuclear power plant would be scrapped.

"I don't see it necessary to even discuss (the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project) at a time of crisis," Borisov told reporters following a meeting with diplomats here.

During the closed-door session, the premier evoked the ecological catastrophe an oil leak would have on Bulgaria's tiny bay of Burgas, pointing to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, one of the diplomats told AFP.

The 280-kilometre (174-mile) pipeline is to stretch from Burgas to Alexandroupolis in Greece and will carry oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe without having to transport it through the busy Bosphorus strait.

"Moreover, the pipeline route passes through protected nature zones," Borisov said, noting massive opposition to project among people in the region.

A diplomat said that Borisov had "expressed strong reservations" to the pipeline deal signed with Russia and Greece by the previous Socialist administration in 2007.

Borisov was similarly sceptical about a deal with Russia to build a 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube, the diplomat said.

The project has been delayed by Bulgaria's failure to find a European investor or raise necessary funding for the plant, which according to Borisov would amount to 13 billion euros (15.7 billion dollars).

"Can anyone tell me where this money is going to come from and when we hope to get it back," Borisov asked.

Nevertheless, speaking on national radio, Economy and Energy Minister Traycho Traikov insisted that no official decision had been taken to scrap the projects.

"I do not believe that the premier said that. We have not taken a decision to drop either of the projects," Traykov said.

The government press office confirmed in a statement that Bulgaria "has not for the time being undertaken any official action for ending its participation" in the pipeline project.

© 2010 AFP

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