BELGRADE – Serbia should immediately join the talks on construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project. Otherwise, the country risks facing a serious shortage of gas supplies, former Serbian diplomat and author Srecko Djukic said.

According to Djukic, Turkish Stream would give Serbia an opportunity to get out of the “jungle” the country found itself in after the South Stream pipeline projects were cancelled, for which “Bulgaria is to blame” first of all.

“We need major gas pipelines which I call highways of the 21st century,” he told Sputnik Serbian.

Meanwhile, during his recent visit to Hungary, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled that Moscow is ready to renew energy partnership with Bulgaria despite the disappointment over the cancellation of the South Stream project.

Djukic noted that Putin’s remark should be regarded as kind of a “pardon” for Bulgaria. At the same time, the question remains who will play the key transit role in the project.

The diplomat suggested that not only Greece but also Romania or Serbia could get the role, despite political tensions between Moscow and Bucharest.

“As for Serbia, we have a good political relationship with Russia. Serbia and Russia are fraternal countries. But friendship is one thing and business another. Each side takes care first of all of its economic interests. No one will make gifts. Serbia should take much political effort [to join the project],” Djukic pointed out.

Russia’s Gazprom and Turkey’s Botas signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of Turkish Stream in December 2014. After a series of setbacks, in October 2016, Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of a new pipeline.
Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin signed a law ratifying the agreement between Moscow and Ankara on the project.

The new pipeline including two legs will run via the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and continue to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border. The annual capacity of each leg is estimated to reach 15.75 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Pipe-laying works for the Turkish Stream are expected to begin in 2017 and end in late 2019.