The Macedonian Tendency: Keep the South Stream Pipeline

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Keep the South Stream Pipeline

By David Edenden
Good article on the South Stream. The US/EU are trying to force Macedonia to sacrifice its national interests on the altar of their anti-Russian geopolitical machinations.

Macedonia, US, Russia and the South Stream pipeline

By Sasho Manevski, August 8, 2014
Translated and edited by Risto Stefov

 Round table talks, organized by the South Eastern European Coalition and the Richard Lugar Institute for diplomacy, were held on July18, 2014 in Washington covering “Energy concerns and opportunities in South Eastern Europe after the G7”.

The South Eastern European Coalition is made up of a coalition of various ethnic organizations operating in this part of the region with aims “to contribute to a better American foreign policy which reflects on the common interests and goals of ethnic groups in the United States, that share common American values.”

The kind of approach taken by these non-governmental lobby groups follows the anti-Russian action taken by the American government. ...

Macedonia has a poorly developed infrastructure with a gas pipeline running from Deve Bair to Skopje with a capacity of 800 thousand cubic metres of gas expandable to 1.2 billion cubic metres and utilization of about 20%. Currently, only Strumitsa is gasified, with work being done to gasify Skopje and a small gas infrastructure in Kumanovo.

The United States had 22 years to show leadership in the region and in Macedonia and to invest in its energy and gas infrastructure. But in place of being encouraged and led by the United States to develop our energy needs, we are told to stay away from South Stream and seek other sources from which to buy our energy.

The Macedonian government, on the other hand, has signed an agreement with the South Stream project. The Macedonian side, in a separate deal, has also signed a contract to return Russian debt to Macedonia as a remnant of the Yugoslav debt. With this agreement, the Russian company will build part of the gas infrastructure in Macedonia, from Deve Bair to Negotino. It will also convert the Negotino electric generation station to gas which will then deliver cheap electricity to the Macedonian people, now imported at high cost. Also, the path that the gas pipeline will take will allow more cities and industrial facilities in Eastern Macedonia to connect to it, thereby further realizing economic benefits that are necessary for this poor region.

In other words, Macedonia has made a deal with Russia not only to supply it with gas but to also develop its necessary gas infrastructure.

And as such, South Stream, which does not pass through the Ukraine, in itself is an alternative to our current pipeline, which so far has been repeatedly blocked from delivering Russian gas to Europe. Given the current situation in the Ukraine it is expected that next winter the Ukraine will politicize delivery of Russian gas to Europe, which would then disrupt gas supplies to Europe, and perhaps to Macedonia.

Our economy that uses gas will be damaged under this scenario and we will be forced to start using more expensive fuels in order to continue production and conduct other activities. There would be no danger of this happening if we connect to South Stream, as an alternative, because South Stream does not pass through the Ukraine.

In other words, South Stream will bring only benefits to Macedonia. At the same time, let us not forget that Macedonia currently pays a high price for gas because it is a small user, and because there are no alternative supply options. To have the Russian gas as an alternative, the price of gas will not be much cheaper because the amounts supplied will be small, but it will definitely be cheaper than the current price. Under current conditions, using Russian gas will be a cheapest fuel option, costing about the same as firewood, which is much cheaper than gasoline, electricity, oil...

It should be more than obvious to everyone that Macedonia signed a contract with Russia in order to improve its gas infrastructure, reduce energy costs and thus improve Macedonia’s economic position, which will supply the Macedonian people and Macedonian industries with a steady source of cheap energy and which will benefit all who are in need of energy.

In other words, South Stream and the contract to build a gas infrastructure are of strategic interest to Macedonia.

The Government of Macedonia, despite American efforts, has not deviated from this contract with Russia. Ivanov recently publicly endorsed South Stream.

Macedonia needs alternatives and should be approached to join the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, but under no circumstances should it be expected to give up South Stream. Nor is it necessary to place Macedonia in scenarios similar to those of the Ukraine - either you are with us or with them.

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