Hungary, Russia and Serbia are renewing talks on the construction of a gas pipeline that would partially mirror the route of the now abandoned South Stream pipeline, Hungary’s foreign minister told MTI by phone from St. Petersburg on Friday.
The pipeline will have a smaller capacity than the South Stream, Péter Szijjártó said.
Over the past two days, Szijjártó discussed the project with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, CEO of gas giant Gazprom Alexei Miller and Russian and Serbian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Ivica Dacic within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The minister said the quick construction of another gas pipeline was a fundamental interest of Hungary, as it would allow the country to receive gas through at least one other route.
Szijjártó said Hungary’s government would begin talks on the project with the vice-president of the European Commission in charge of energy policy and Bulgaria as soon as possible.
He said the plan to build the pipeline was realistic. The minister also said that it would not run directly to Bulgaria, but first to Turkey.
Russia is prepared to carry out the project and everything is in place for construction work to begin in Hungary and Serbia, as the joint ventures set up in the two countries to oversee the construction of the South Stream pipeline are still active, he said.
“The European Union can have no realistic argument against such a pipeline, seeing as how the concerns it had expressed over the South Stream pipeline could also be said for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. And in that case, the European Commission has not brought up any concerns,” Szijjártó said.
He noted that Russia had started laying the pipes for the Turkish Stream pipeline on the Black Sea bed towards Turkey.
Russia dropped plans to build the South Stream pipeline in 2014 because of opposition in Europe. The pipeline would have delivered Russian gas to Europe via the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine.