вторник, 1 декември 2015 г.

Borissov pulls out of a joint protest letter of 9 EU member states against Nord Stream-2

Bad judgement by Borissov at the last moment to withdraw from protest letter to the EC on Nord Stream-2. Note that even Syriza led Greece and Orban's Hungary joined (!?) which places Bulgaria at the extreme end of supporters of Russia. Strange place to be these days, n'est pas?
Borissov overruled the MFA (that normally coordinates such matters) in favour of ME and his usual close circle of confidants.
What does he gain?
Let us roll out the options.
The South Stream is dead. Moscow confirmed. A redivivus is not in the cards, certainly well above Borissov's reach. Mr. Putin has lost his appetite for grand projects in the South Corridor.
The protest letter was signed by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania. And impressive array of countries with no precedent in the past in such a format. The countries basically tell Brussels and the rest of the EU that bypass attempts by Moscow are detrimental the core interests of the EU and solidarity does not grow on trees but is enshrined in simple acts - such as whether to allow Nord Stream-2 to bypass not only Ukraine (which in itself is reproachful) but also EU members states as Slovakia.
All the singatory countries are Bulgaria's natural family and it depends upon them for all the energy projects that will form demand for transit services and alternative gas supplies to its consumers - where PM Borissov's pretense to see the country as a natural gas hub ends. Bulgaria's best hope for access to the LNG markets is Greece.
To support the Nord Stream - 2 in solitude and to distance oneself from one's family is a major flop as all these countries are essential if Bulgaria is to gain from serving transit flows from the South and alternative non-Russian gas flows from the North.
Sofia has suffered badly from Russia's bypass energy diplomacy - with the Turkish Stream and with the TESLA project - the follow-on route via Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. Bulgaria felt betrayed by her partners and with bad taste.
If he believes he will get a tap on the back in Germany or Austria - he is dead wrong - Chancellor Merkel has not fully backed the project and she will certainly heed calls from those protesting. You can't have double standards in the EU.
So what is the explanation?
Borissov gets 'advice' from many corners but certainly from people closely connected to the Russian energy lobby in Bulgaria. Gazprom has formally advised the Bulgarian government last month that it is cancelling the South Stream project. The interesting part is that those representing the Bulgarian side at the talks preferred not to formalize this notice of project cancellation and tried not to make it public. They agreed only to an allusion to the fact in the formal memo of the meeting amongst many other items. However even memos are official docs and in legal terms hold much water.
One possible explanation is that PM Borissov has some friends who would suffer badly from the project cancellation - as some expenses have been already made, credits taken and future revenues already pledged or factored in. But more importantly Moscow has insisted on immediate transfer of all the funds in the joint South Stream Bulgaria company back to Gazprom. There are two possible explanations for the nervousness in some Sofia quarters - these funds are essential for the bank's health and a sudden withdrawal will pull the rug beneath it or some cash has already been spent on non-core project essentials.
Whatever the explanation PM's Borissov's move will enter in history as a major faux pas in Bulgaria's foreign policy.

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