Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ruled out the possibility that Turkey could hamper the South Stream pipeline project, saying nothing would stop Moscow from implementing it.
"We do not think there is any threat to this project from the side of our Turkish partners," Putin told a joint news conference with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at Brdo pri Kranju near Ljubljana. "We have a lot of possibilities, nothing can stop us from implementing the project we have agreed with the Turkish side," he stressed.
During a recent visit to Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made minimal public remarks on the South Stream pipeline, saying merely that "joint work is continuing." Russian media reported that Turkey was purposely delaying its approval of the route through its Black Sea waters in order to bargain for lower gas prices.
"We are ready for every possible development. We consider it possible to liquefy gas and carry it to the Bulgarian coast, or it is also possible to liquefy it where it is produced, at the Yamal peninsula, and bring it to the South-eastern European countries and put it in the pipeline there," Putin said. Putin arrived to Slovenia on a two-day visit aimed at strenghthening cooperation between the two states.
During the meeting with Pahor, a series ob bilateral agreements were signed including one between Russia's Gazprom gas giant and Slovenian Geoplin to enforce the construction of the South stream pipeline through Slovenia.
The pipeline project, championed by Putin since 2007, would pump gas from southern Russia to the Balkans and onwards to other European countries. It is seen as a rival to the European Nabucco project, which will bypass Russia.
Slovenia agreed with Russia in 2009 to allow the construction of the South Stream pipeline through its territory. Based on that agreement, Gazprom and Geoplin signed on Tuesday a deal to found a joint company that would draw the possible route of the pipeline through Slovenia and run its construction.
"Through this agreement, I'm convinced Slovenia is enforcing its position. Possibilities for the pipeline route to cross Slovenia are very high," the head of Geoplin Marjan Eberlinc told journalists after signing the deal.
He added "Slovenia sees many advantages in this project, particularly considering a safe supply of energy."