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Serbia Suspends Works on South Stream Project Over Bulgaria's Stance

RIA Novosti

14:05 09/06/2014

BELGRADE, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - Serbia is putting its participation in the South Stream pipeline project on hold due to Bulgaria's decision to suspend its involvement, Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction Zorana Mihajlović said Monday.

"Bulgaria is the center, therefore, as long as the talks between Bulgaria and Brussels, as well as between European Union and Russia are not accomplished or as long as Russia does not change the route [for the pipeline] , we have to wait," Mihajlović said.

The deputy prime minister added that in both cases construction in Serbia would be frozen.

Earlier on Sunday, Bulgarian media reported the country's prime minister, Plamen Oresharski, put the South Stream project on hold following a request from the European Commission.

The announcement was made after Oresharski's meeting with US officials, including Senator John McCain, who visited Bulgaria this weekend as part of a tour of Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, Russia's Ministry of Energy said Bulgaria had not officially notified Russia of its decision to suspend the project, adding that the issue would be raised during a meeting with EU Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger on Monday.

Russia started construction on the South Stream pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine instead travelling across the Black Sea for gas deliveries to Southern and Eastern Europe, in 2012.

The European Commission insists Russia's bilateral talks with transit countries Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia violate EU legislation.

Russia in turn initiated legal proceedings in the WTO against the EU's Third Energy Package, under which owners of pipelines located in the region cannot also be gas producers.

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