Vucic: TurkStream to pay off in 10 to 12 years (Beta/Politika/RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia can expect a return on its investment in the TurkStream in 10 to 12 years. After the opening of the natural gas pipeline in Istanbul, Vucic said the project would provide a considerable boost to Serbia’s industry and economy, in addition to energy security and cheaper fuel. The President said the capacity of the new pipeline would be 13 billion cubic meters, adding that from Serbia it would branch off to Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other states of the region. Vucic said he expected Serbia to link up with the TurkStream in May or September 2020. The pipeline’s section between Anapa in Russia and Turkey’s Kiyikoy, running under the Black Sea, was opened on Jan. 8. The opening ceremony in Istanbul was attended by the presidents of Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia, Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan, Bojko Borisov and Aleksandar Vucic, respectively. Initial gas deliveries to run through the Serbian section are expected in the second half of the year, probably in October, at the start of the next heating season. All pipes to cover the 403-km long leg through Serbia have been installed, and gas meters and a large compressor are still to be installed in the vicinity of Zabari.
Vucic: Few world statesman called Serbia and Serbs “a handful of misery” as the newly elected Croatian President Zoran Milanovic once did (B92/Tanjug)
President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbia is open to co-operation with Croatia and that the two countries will need to establish substantially better relations. Vucic added that “few world statesmen” called Serbia and Serbs “a handful of misery”, as the newly elected Croatian President Zoran Milanovic once did. Asked what he expects in relations between Serbia and Croatia, Vucic said that Serbia would be delighted to welcome any improvement in relations towards the Serbs in Croatia. “We will welcome every kilometer of asphalt or power lines that Croatia builds in Serbian areas,” Vucic said in Istanbul. He stressed that Serbia is very open to co-operation with Croatia and that it is necessary if both countries want to survive in these areas, including stopping the large outflow of people, which, as he says, is proportionally larger in Croatia. “Cooperation is the key word, and will we succeed”, Vucic said, adding that few world statesmen called Serbia and the Serbian people “a handful of misery,” but nonetheless congratulated Milanovic on winning the election. (Milanovic recently was quoted saying: “Serbs want to be rulers of the Balkans, but are actually a handful of misery”). “I want to believe that it was said at some point when … I’m not sure what happened. In any case, we will essentially have to establish better relations with Croatia and Croats,” Vucic said.
Dacic: Montenegrin agents will not rule Serbia (Beta)
The agents of Montenegrin services working against the interests of the Serbs in Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church will not act freely in Serbia or rule the state, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in Belgrade. “You have everything here – a business empire,
property, criminal circles, public figures, but you won’t be spreading hatred from Serbia, or usurping the rights of the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro,” Dacic said to reporters, adding that it was morally wrong, and that there was not a single state in the world to let it happen. Commenting on his recent statement that the question was, if those supporting Milo Djukanovic’s authorities deserved citizenship of Serbia, Minister Dacic wanted to know why he was being criticized for his words, yet the regime in Montenegro had never been criticized for its actions against Serbia. “Why don’t some of these critics condemn the regime in Montenegro, instead of signing appeals describing the Serbs as a genocidal people, blaming them for all the wars, calling Republika Srpska a genocidal product, and insisting that Kosovo’s independence should be recognized. Shame on you,” the Minister said. In another comment on Montenegro’s new Religious Freedom Act, Dacic said that Serbia’s position had not changed. Belgrade believes that all problems should be resolved peacefully, and that Montenegro should not have passed a law that not all religious communities in the state had supported,” he said.
Dacic: Five countries in undefined status regarding Kosovo issue (Novosti)
Novosti writes that Belgrade could achieve in a short period of time its next goal and lower the number of countries that recognize independence of Kosovo below 90, taking into account that five state held by Pristina on the list of its allied do not have “nailed down” positions. Of 193 UN member state, presently 95 states do not recognize independence of Kosovo, while 93 recognize, and Foreign Minister Dacic tells Novosti that Egypt, Peru, Oman, the Dominican Republic and Guinea Bissau are in an undefined status. Novosti points out that if the number of recognitions would come down to less than 90, it would mean that Pristina would find itself at the level it was in 2012 and that eight years it has been tapping in place, i.e. its lobbying potential has been exhausted. Dacic notes that Peru has allegedly recognized Kosovo’s independence, but that it hasn’t established diplomatic relations with Pristina and doesn’t vote for them. “Oman’s foreign minister told me that they haven’t recognized Kosovo while Pristina claims that they have. Oman representatives differently vote on Kosovo from one gathering to another,” says Dacic. He notes that the Dominican Republic recognized Kosovo, but hasn’t votes against Pristina in Istanbul and says that it will respect every solution that is reached in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The fifth country is Guinea Bissau that withdrew is recognition in 2017, but their President withdrew this decision. Since presidential elections were completed over there, Dacic expects that the new head of state will not create problems and that Guinea will move to the safe number of countries that do not recognize Kosovo. He points out that Pristina at present doesn’t not have the majority in the UN General Assembly.
Dacic, British Ambassador ready to develop cooperation (Beta/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and British Ambassador Sian MacLeod stated that they were ready to intensify efforts towards the development of relations between the two countries and their raising to a higher level. MacLeod stated that, after Brexit, Great Britain would dedicate particular attention on strengthening bilateral cooperation, but also continue to support and help Serbia in the process of EU integration, the Foreign Ministry has stated. Before the meeting, Dacic and MacLeod signed the memorandum of understanding between the two governments, about the employment of family members who live in same households with members of diplomatic and consular staff. Dacic said he conveyed to MacLeod that Serbia expected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to visit soon, which would be the first visit of a British prime minister to Belgrade since 1980.
People at prayer service in front of St. Sava’s Church in Belgrade (Beta/Politika)
Several thousand people attended the prayer service in front of St. Sava’s Church in Belgrade on Jan. 8, held in connection with events in Montenegro after the adoption of the law on the freedom of religious confession. The people carried church and state flags, icons and banners, which read “Without Kosovo We Are Like A Man Without A Heart” and “Nothing Is Sacred to Them – Milo Criminal.” The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, and the general secretary of the Serbian President, Nikola Selakovic, also attended the service.
At the front of the procession, the participants held the banner reading “It Is Time for God’s Justice” and the gathering was secured by minor police forces. According to earlier announcements, the prayer service, organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church, represented a rally in support “to the suffering people in Montenegro, Kosovo and Metohija and all Serb lands.” The disputed Law on the freedom of religious confession, which caused fierce reactions in Montenegro and in Serbia, came into effect in Montenegro on Jan. 8. Several protest rallies were held in both countries.
Marking of RS Day- January 9th (RTRS)
All preparations for marking of the Republika Srpska (RS) Day in Banja Luka on Thursday have been concluded. This year’s celebration will be held under the slogan ‘Za sva vremena’ (For All Times). Rehearsals of the Banja Luka parade and the solemn academy, that will be held in ‘Borik’ hall, were held on Wednesday. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic, Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic are all expected to address the guests of Thursday’s solemn academy. All security measures have been introduced as of Wednesday. Large number of police officers have been charged with securing the streets and the main event. Shops and restaurants close to the city’s center will be closed down on Thursday and streets through which the parade will be held will be closed for traffic. Commenting the RS Day celebration during general rehearsal, RS Minister of Interior Dragan Lukac said intention of the RS authorities is not to offend anyone with this celebration but to mark a day that is very important for them. RS officials called all citizens of the RS to attend the celebration. On the eve of marking of 9 January as the RS Day, high-ranking officials of the RS in the institutions of the RS and B&H laid wreaths at the memorial to fallen RS soldiers in Banja Luka on Wednesday. Dodik expressed belief that the RS has reasons to be proud and underlined that the institutions are stable, while salaries continue to increase. “All the RS institutions are stable today, its current level of economy is stable,” Dodik said, adding that RS officials should remain committed to preserving the RS. Cvijanovic stated that fallen soldiers are most deserving for the creation of the RS. “This is the day when we remember those who passed brave political decisions, those who then defended freedom and their homes. Today and especially tomorrow (9 January) we should show respect towards all those who continued to build the RS into a place that is safe for living,” Cvijanovic noted. RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic pointed out that the RS keeps becoming more stable and he believes that it is the RS government’s obligation to prevent immigration of its citizens. Viskovic stated: “In the coming period, the institutions of the RS should do everything to strengthen the RS economically and to create as many investment and as many jobs as possible.” Cvijanovic hosted a reception at the RS government’s Administrative Center in Banja Luka on Wednesday evening, in honor of Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church who arrived in Banja Luka on the occasion of the RS Day. The reception was also attended by Dodik, RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic, RS Prime Minister Viskovic, the RS government ministers and ministers from the Serbian government, including Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin and Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Zoran Djordjevic, and many other RS officials. Patriarch Irinej conveyed a message that Serbs have always been united and that the RS was created in order for Serbs to survive in this region, adding that they should live in brotherhood, love and peace.
Conference on ‘Legal and Political Consequences of Declaration on Proclamation of Republic of Serb People of B&H on 9 January 1992’ starts in Sarajevo (Hayat)
A two-day international scientific conference on the topic ‘Legal and Political Consequences of the Declaration on Proclamation of the Republic of Serb People of B&H on 9 January 1992’ started at the City Hall in Sarajevo on Wednesday. Participants of the conference emphasized that 9 January 1992, was the day when anti-state, pro-Serb forces led by SDS adopted a Declaration on proclaiming the Republic of Serb People of B&H. Some participants warned that it was the day that marked a turning point and the beginning of political-legal violence, establishment of war camps, ethnic cleansing, horrific war crimes, and genocide. Participants reminded of the ICTY’s verdicts that sentenced perpetrators of those crimes to many years or to life in prison. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic stated that glorification of genocide and of perpetrators of genocide is a matter for scientific research. Dzaferovic assessed that 9 January is a date when “all bad things started in B&H and that act was in fact an attack on constitutional order of the Republic of B&H”. Dzaferovic added that proclaiming the Republic of Serb People of B&H was contrary to the constitution and the international law. “That was actually a day when genocide started,” he added. RS Vice-President Ramiz Salkic explained that he does not know what marking of 9 January in Banja Luka will imply, as he is not engaged in that. Salkic announced the intention to lay flowers at the places of burials of “victims, who are a result of 9 January” at the Memorial Centers in Bratunac and Potocari on Thursday. The organizers stated that “the unlawful and unconstitutional Declaration on the Proclamation of the Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina of 9 January 1992 represents an anti-constitutional act followed by political, and subsequently physical, armed violence, with unprecedented consequences, war crimes and war devastation”. North Macedonian Parliament Deputy Speaker Zecir Ramcilovic reminded that the North Macedonian Parliament has adopted a resolution on genocide in B&H. He stressed that it is only by recognizing the truth about what happened that it is possible to build mutual trust and cooperation, as well as prosperity of the region.
Tensions in the Sarajevo Canton Assembly do not seem to calm down (Hayat)
Tensions in the Sarajevo Canton (SC) Assembly do not seem to calm down. The extraordinary session of the SC Assembly, scheduled for Wednesday, was adjourned before it even started, due to lack of quorum. According to Hayat, the previous parliamentary majority refuses to accept the fact that a new parliamentary majority has been formed. Namely, the parliamentary majority in SC used to be formed by Our Party (NS), People and Justice (NiP), Independent B&H List (NBL), SDP B&H, SBB B&H, and DF. SBB B&H and DF left that majority and joined SDA, forming a new majority. The seal of the SC Assembly has been hidden and put out of reach of the newly-formed parliamentary majority, and the Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Interior (SC MoI) and the SC Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the case of the missing seal. Newly-appointed Speaker of the SC Assembly Mirza Celik (SDA) came to the extraordinary session on Wednesday but the seat of the SC Assembly Speaker was already taken by Danijela Kristic (NiP), who was appointed to the SC Assembly speaker position by NiP leader and former Assembly Speaker Elmedin Konakovic. Celik stated that the SC Assembly cannot function and adopt decisions without the seal. Celik said that the previous parliamentary majority announced that they will file a criminal report against him “for false representation”. Celik wondered how it is possible to accuse him of false representation, if he was elected the SC Assembly speaker by 18 representatives in the Assembly. SDA’s representative in the SC Assembly Mahir Devic criticized Konakovic for “usurping the seal of the SC Assembly and declaring himself the protector of that seal”, adding that such situation is unprecedented. On the other hand, Konakovic reiterated that Celik was not elected in line with the rules, “so he cannot get the seal”. SDP B&H’s representative in the SC Assembly Igor Stojanovic expressed an opinion that there have been harsh violations of the Rules of Procedure of the SC Assembly.
B&H to finally get delegations of parliament of B&H in European and international institutions and organizations (Dnevni avaz)
B&H will finally get delegations of the parliament of B&H in European and international institutions and organizations after one year of delays. The daily reminded that not a single delegation which should participate in the work of European and international bodies was appointed last year because of the blockade of the parliament of B&H and added that it is especially important to know that representatives of the Parliament of B&H in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will be appointed. The daily reminded that the Parliament of B&H already missed two deadlines to appoint its delegation to PACE last year.
Appointing Ambassador to Serbia first test of Milanovic-Plenkovic cooperation? (Hina/Vecernji list)
The appointment of the new Croatian ambassador to Serbia can serve as the first test of cooperation between the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and the newly-elected president Zoran Milanovic, Vecernji list daily newspaper said on Wednesday.
Hido Biscevic, a journalist and a career diplomat, has already been nominated by PM Plenkovic for that post and this nomination has been approved by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
However, the whole procedure of Biscevic’s appointment as the next Croatian ambassador to Belgrade has not yet been completed. It needs to be also approved by the country-recipient and in this case, Serbia has already shown positive response and also the relevant Croatian parliamentary committee is supposed to interview the nominee. Upon the completion of the whole procedure, the Croatian president signs the decision on ambassadorial appointments.
It remains to be seen whether the procedure will be finalized until 18 February when Grabar-Kitarovic’s term ends. Besides, decisions to approve appointments of diplomats towards the end of the term of the outgoing presidents may be ethically disputable. Vecernji list said that Grabar-Kitarovic would not rush decisions. The post of the Croatian ambassador in Belgrade is currently vacant after Ambassador Gordan Bakota was sent to his new ambassadorial duty to Germany.
Institute for Development of Croatia-Serbia Relations set up in Vinkovci (Hina)
The first days of 2020 saw the founding assembly of the Institute for Development of Croatia-Serbia Relations (IROHS), a civil society organization from Vinkovci dedicated to promoting, analyzing and researching relations between the two countries, with former Social Democrat MP Damir Rimac at its helm. “The IROHS staff believes that by understanding the past we can build a better future in this area, regardless of whether we call it the region or Central or Southeast Europe. For quite some time, too little has been said in public about technologies, education, economy, mobility, culture, sustainable development and quality that exists both in Croatia and in Serbia” said Rimac. He said the establishment of the Institute was motivated by the need for the exchange of experience and the transfer of know-how, which, he said, both Croatia and Serbia need. The institute aims to influence relations between the two countries in such a way to “close the book of memories and open a planner.” One of the Institute’s first steps would be to send a letter to the two countries’ presidents, parliaments and governments as well as all other competent institutions, calling for the establishment of cooperation between them. The establishment of cooperation with similar civil organizations and the start of dialogue is the plan for the first half of the year while in the second half, the goal will be to implement certain projects, said Rimac. Rimac said that Croatian exports to Serbia and imports from that country amounted to around 500 million euro in the first 11 months of 2019, with exports from Croatia to Serbia being higher than imports, resulting in a 64 million euro trade surplus. “From the economic point of view, there are no obstacles to increasing trade between Croatia and Serbia by 100-120% in the next two to three years or for the value of exports not to exceed one billion euros, which would make the surplus in trade with CEFTA countries exceed two billion euros. Croatia could profit in that segment alone,” said Rimac. He said one of the priorities was also the establishment of cooperation in the area of preservation of cultural heritage, education and various technologies, sustainable development and disaster prevention.
Martinovic: Serbian Orthodox Church should be registered just like other religious communities (Pobjeda)
Law on Freedom of Religion or Religious Beliefs and Legal Status of Religious Communities entered into force on Wednesday. The document provoked a wave of dissatisfaction in the Serbian Orthodox Church and pro-Serbian political block in Montenegro. DF members went as far as to stir up scandal in the parliament of Montenegro on 27 December last year with the aim of sabotaging the process of adoption. Nikola Martinovic, lawyer, said for Pobjeda that the key thing in the application of the Law was very simple – whether you have grounds to claim that some structure is yours or not. “Everybody who owns any real estate has to know where he/she got it from, whether it was bought or inherited of it was obtained by means of law. The same rule applies for the real estate mentioned in the law,” explained Martinovic. From Wednesday on, Property Administration is obliged to make a list of state property encompassed by the law and to initiate administrative procedures before the Real Estate Administration, in order to make appropriate entries. “That means that Property Administration is obliged to identify real estate which is believed to be state-owned in accordance with this law and to submit request to the Real Estate Administration to check it. The parties in the administrative procedure will be different companies of physical persons on one side and state of Montenegro on the other. Every part in the procedure will submit evidence corroborating that the party has right to claim on the property,” pointed out Martinovic. Real Estate Administration will first receive the request from the Property Administration and then it will call the party to acquaint it with the request. “Finally, when Property Administration collects and considers the evidence, it will render first-degree decision. Every party has right to appeal. Ministry of Finance is in charge if deciding upon the appeals,” says Martinovic. He believes that there shouldn’t be any obstructions in the institutions. “I am sure every party will act fairly and consciously. There’s no reason for obstructions,” says Martinovic. Serbian Orthodox Church announces an international arbitration. However, Martinovic says that, in such cases, arbitration does not exist. In his opinion, Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral should be registered in Montenegro. Why does Serbian Orthodox Church deny the law? Martinovic says it’s a question for the church. “I guess they are afraid the law will have an impact on their property rights. Do they have reason? We’ll see,” said Martinovic. He says that the law could be implemented within a year provided that every party acts consciously and uses the available legal resources efficiently and lawfully.
Deployment of two Montenegrin soldiers in Iraq might be delayed (Pobjeda)
Montenegro’s Ministry of Defense is considering to delay deployment of Montenegrin soldiers in NATO mission in Iraq, owing to the crisis in the Middle East caused by the murder of the Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. Montenegro’s Parliament recently adopted the Decision of the Defense and Security Council on the deployment of up to two Montenegrin soldiers to Iraq.
The decision envisages that Montenegrin soldiers should be deployed in logistic positions at the airport in Baghdad. Representatives of the Ministry say that there’s chance that deployment might be delayed. “Due to the situation in Iraq, only training activities have been suspended so far. The mission hasn’t been aborted, but we’ll see how the situation is going to develop,” said representatives of the Ministry.
Macron changes position, green light for Macedonia in May? (Republika)
French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday after meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Paris that France would withdraw its enlargement reserves at the next EU Council in May if the European Commission drafts an enlargement methodology by the end of the month to address France’s demands. Macron has said he wants the Zagreb Summit to be a success and that changing the methodology of the negotiation process is a prerequisite for starting negotiations with EU candidate countries. “I share your efforts to achieve unity at the Zagreb Summit in May and make it successful for Europe. France has proposed a new methodology so that the enlargement process is not only a bureaucratic process, but a real political way forward that can be both accelerated and reversible, containing conditions as well as concrete benefits for candidate countries,” Macron said.
Alliance, Besa and Alternative to run together in the elections (Republika)
The Besa Movement is open to a three-party election coalition in line with the call of the Alliance for Albanians, Besa said after a meeting of the Central Presidency held in Tetovo. Three decisions were taken at the meeting. The position of the Besa Movement was reaffirmed that it was open to a possible three-party pre-election co-operation, in line with the call of the Alliance for Albanians. Second, the Central Presidency has ordered Besa Movement General Secretary Arjanit Hoxha to propose the strategy to the election headquarters and its composition at the next Central Assembly meeting, the party said Wednesday. The third decision concerns the organizational secretary, Adnan Azizi, who is tasked with drafting the agenda for visits to each Albanian settlement, including the diaspora, where the Besa platform will be presented, the statement said.
More than a dozen Macedonian nationals at the two attacked US bases in Iraq (Telma)
Currently there are dozens of Macedonian nationals at the Ain al-Assad and Erbil bases, working for the US company KBR, which provides civilian logistical support to the US Army, Telma reported. None of them were reported to have been injured, though they were upset after the attack by Iran on the two US bases. Hours before the attack, due to a high alert, base personnel were transferred to bunkers that serve as shelters prior to possible air or missile attacks. Most of the employees at the two bases come from Kumanovo. Some of them are preparing to return home either on vacation or because of termination of employment with the KBR company.
At the moment there is no alarm, and transport to Macedonia is waiting for the situation to completely calm down as the bombarded Erbil base serves as a transit airport for members of the US military as well as employees at the military bases. The Macedonian government has condemned Iran’s missile attacks on US and coalition military bases in Iraq, coming as Iran’s response to the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani. “We believe that such unacceptable actions further heighten tensions and increase the risk of widespread military conflict. We call for maximum restraint and measures to create preconditions for a gradual easing of tensions and normalization of the situation,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said stressing that the country remains in constant consultation with the EU and NATO partners and supports de-escalation of the situation in Iran.
Rama: The opposition’s decision to be involved in electoral process, a good sign (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke about the Electoral Reform, highlighting that he is already in the process of agreeing and assessed the opposition’s decision to be involved in this process as a good sign. “The term ‘major crisis’ is over, it is an artificial crisis injected into Albanian politics by some parties. But today we are in the process of agreeing on Electoral Reform. Its implementation in line with the OSCE recommendations’ legislation. The fact is that the opposition has agreed to be involved in this process. This is a good sign and we have a very objective axis and we have the ODIHR that can help us and that is a good basis,” said Rama.
Rama announced the visit to Russia as part of his engagements. Considering that Republic of Albania officially assumes OSCE Chairmanship on Thursday, PM Rama stated from Austria’s capital, Vienna that visiting Russia is part of OSCE leader’s agenda. Furthermore, Rama said that several visits will be conducted, where the ones to Ukraine, United States of America and Russia will be made the soonest, but he gave no information regarding visits’ dates. “The visit to Russia is part of the agenda of the leader of OSCE and engagements that I have taken. We will make some visits, the soonest to come are the visits to Ukraine, USA and Russia,” said the PM.
Missiles at US troops, Meta urges Iran to respect international laws (ADN)
President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta called on Iran to respect international agreements, international laws and their obligations in interest of peace. After Iranian forces fired missiles at military base housing US troops in Iraq in retaliation for Iranian General’s killing, President Meta condemned this deed, underlining that it is a provocative action with serious consequences for the region and the region’s stability. In addition, President of Albania emphasized it has been two decades that Albania is determined in its commitments of fight against international terrorism and any world peace-endangering action. “The missiles discharged by Iran towards two Iraqi military bases that house American servicepersons and personnel of the coalition, are a provocative action with dangerous consequences for the region and its stability. Iran must respect international agreements, international laws and their obligations in the interest of peace. Albania is not an evil country but a democratic country that has suffered from an evil dictatorship unparalleled in its kind therefor considers human rights sacred. Since two decades, Albania remains determined in its commitments alongside the US and the countries of NATO in the war against international terrorism and every act that puts in danger stability and peace in the world,” stated President Meta.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Turkish Stream gas pipeline officially launched in grand ceremony (Neftegaz.RU, 9 January 2020)
Istanbul – A grand opening ceremony for the TurkStream gas pipeline took place on January 8. Attending the event were Vladimir Putin, President of Russian, Recep Erdogan, President of Turkey, Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, Boyko Borissov, PM of Bulgaria, Alexander Novak, Russian Minister of Energy, Fatih Donmez, Turkish Minister of Energy, and Alexey Miller, CEO of Gazprom. Burhan Ozcan, Chairman of the Board and General Manager at BOTAS, and Oleg Aksyutin, Gazprom´s Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee, joined the event via teleconference. TurkStream, which is laid in the Black Sea, is a link between the gas transmission systems of Russia and Turkey. The gas pipeline has 2 strings with a combined throughput capacity of 31.5 billion cu m. The 1st string will deliver gas to Turkey, while the 2nd string is intended for gas transit to southern and southeastern Europe through Turkish territory. The pipelaying for TurkStream took 15 months and was completed ahead of schedule in November 2018. The construction of the receiving terminal near the Kiyikoy settlement in Turkey was finished in 2019. The starting point for feeding gas into TurkStream is the Russkaya compressor station (CS), which forms part of Russia’s Unified Gas Supply System and is located near Anapa. With a capacity of 224 MW, the CS maintains the pressure required for transmitting gas along the pipeline’s two strings through more than 930 km up to the Turkish coast where gas enters the receiving terminal. The TurkStream project is unique from a technological standpoint: for the first time ever, a pipe of 813 mm in diameter was laid at a depth of 2,200 km. At every stage of the project, including the operation stage, the highest standards of safety, inter alia environmental safety, are observed. Continuous environmental monitoring is performed. “The launch of TurkStream is a history-making event. Firstly, taking into account exports via Blue Stream, we have paved the way for direct transit-free supplies to fully meet Turkey’s needs for Gazprom’s gas. Secondly, Europe now has a new and reliable route to receive Russian pipeline gas. There is no doubt that, thanks to all of this, our cooperation with our Turkish and European partners is shifting to a new level and is going to help improve energy security in the region,” said Alexey Miller.