Nenad Popovic, a former Vice President of DSS, and now founder and president of the youngest political party in Serbia, gives an interview for Our newspaper, a day after the official registration of the Serbian People’s Party. He said that the Government of Serbia has to continue our cooperation with Russia, regardless of the suspension of construction of “South Stream” gas pipeline, because it is the key to our energy stability in future.
Popovic: Our country has Russia – the country with the largest reserves of oil and gas, as a strategic partner in the energy sector. This is the key to our energy security in the future – he said, adding that the new pipeline from Russia to Turkey, which would be an alternative to “South Stream”, could be a new opportunity for Serbia.
Vladimir Putin has daily talks with European leaders with regards to “South Stream”. Are there any chances to find a compromise and still build the pipeline?
Popovic: Russia has not suspended South Stream, this was done by the European Union. I believe that a compromise can be reached, but it will not involve the construction of “South Stream” in the previously planned form. However, it is clear that the new model of the project will appear, because Europe needs Russian gas. The recently announced gas pipeline that will go from Russia, pass through Turkey and finish at the Turkish-Greek border is the basis for the beginning of agreement about the construction of a new gas pipeline that will supply the EU.
Given that our state leaders expect compensation from Russians in the event that there is no construction of gas pipeline, for which investment projects in Serbia, can Russians possibly be interested in?
Popovic: Russia is one of the largest investors in Serbia. “Gazprom” has so far invested over a billion and a half euro in NIS and it is expected that by 2017 total investments will be 3.5 billion euro. In the future, Russia may be our most important partner for the revival of our petrochemical complex. In addition to energy, our agricultural sector is, as President Putin said in Belgrade, very attractive for Russian investments in the future.
If “South Stream” is definitely canceled, can Serbia count on regular gas supply or is there a reason to be worried?
Popovic: Serbia, as a strategic partner of Russia in the energy sector, will have the best possible status in terms of security of gas supply in the future. While discussing current issues with the top management of “Gazprom”, I was assured that Serbia will be fully secured with the necessary quantities of gas until 2019, through Ukrainian pipeline. At the same time, President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev gave orders to authorities in Russia to find ways to enable stable gas supply for Serbia after 2019.