The tiny Balkan state of Macedonia, once a part of Yugoslavia, is likely to be part of Russia’s latest plan to build a gas pipeline to Europ, bypassing Ukraine.
called Turkish Stream, which would carry Gazprom’s fuel through Turkey then the Balkans – probably including Macedonia – to Russia’s European Union customers.
Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, has said: “If you look at the geography of the region, Macedonia is the best place for constructing the extension of the newest energy infrastructure project in the region, the so-called Turkish Stream.”
Turkish Stream was conceived as a replacement for Russia’s proposed US$45 billion South Stream pipeline project, which was abandoned in December because of an EU rule that forbids one entity from owning both the pipeline and the gas it carries through EU territory. Macedonia isn’t in the EU, but Turkish Stream also would transit Greece, which is in the union.
Moscow says it would relinquish its share in segments of the pipeline carrying gas through EU member nations.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered transit fees amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars to cash-poor Greece if it agrees to become a transit point linking the Turkish stretch of the pipeline with Macedonia, then Serbia, then under the Adriatic Sea to Italy.
The alternative is TANAP, which not only would eliminate Ukraine from the equation, but eliminate Russian gas as well. This pipeline would ship gas from Azerbaijan – and perhaps even from Turkmenistan on the other side of the Caspian Sea – through Turkey and into Europe.
Over the weekend a number of anti-government protests took place in the Republic of Macedonia, which is openly friendly to Russia.
So far, the current government of Macedonia has managed to maintain balance in an unstable region, where many residents have expressed dissatisfaction, especially with the territorial division of the Balkan Republics.
Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner
Sources: Oil Price, Vestnik Kavkaza