The former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the former Speaker of the National Assembly Tsveta Karayancheva and the President Rumen Radev knew already 5 years ago that the extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline was not intended to deliver natural gas to Bulgaria. This is shown by confidential reports of the State Agency “National Security” (DANS), published by the investigative site BIRD on Sunday.
According to the information in the documents in question, already in the fall of 2017, the agency notified the people occupying the three highest government posts in the country that the main goal of this project was in fact “the eventual suspension of the transmission [на газ] through Ukraine”.
Free Europe sent written questions to the press office of the head of state and to the press center of GERB on Monday morning, but so far they have not returned answers. Among the questions was whether Radev had expressed reservations about the construction of the gas pipeline to Borisov’s third government in connection with these DANS reports. How and why the former prime minister repeatedly claimed that this project is of “strategic importance” for Bulgaria and through it the country will be able to receive natural gas from various sources.
Meanwhile, BIRD editor-in-chief Atanas Chobanov commented to Svobodna Europa that he and his colleagues risked publishing the reports, even though they are marked “Confidential” and the statute of limitations has not expired because the information in them is of public interest.
“Overriding public interest“
“We are taking a risk because it is a matter of overriding public interest and because we have experience in protecting our sources. The prosecutor’s office can put pressure on us to reveal them, but that cannot happen. So far, there is no reaction from any institution,” Chobanov said.
The continuation of “Turkish Stream” through Bulgaria is 474 km long. It was built in just about a year by the third government of Borissov, who called it the “Balkan stream”. The pipe costs over BGN 3 billion, paid from the state budget, and enables Russia to supply natural gas to Serbia and other countries. The gas pipeline brings economic benefits to Russia, but not to Bulgaria.
However, the project has another role – “Turkish Stream” and its continuation through Bulgaria are designed to bypass Ukraine. The same is the goal of Nord Stream, which has been supplying natural gas to Germany since 2011. That was also the purpose of Nord Stream 2, which is now frozen because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.
What it says in the references
The DANS reports published in BIRD confirm that the agency warned the Bulgarian state leadership about these circumstances already 5 years ago. They date from October and December 2017 and were prepared in connection with a “project for the transfer of gas through a Turkish Stream facility”.
In the report dated December 11, 2017, DANS warns that the Russian gas company “Gazprom” has unilaterally changed the parameters for gas transmission through Bulgaria and the entire volume through the future pipeline will be intended for Serbia, Greece and Macedonia. The document also contains the clarification that “quantities for the domestic market are not foreseen”.
The information that the continuation of “Turkish Stream” was intended to bypass Ukraine and Bulgaria actually has no “strategic interest” in its construction, has been commented on more than once by Bulgarian and foreign experts.
Against this background, Boyko Borisov has always defended the project as an opportunity to diversify gas supplies for Bulgaria, claiming that the so-called “Balkan Stream” will provide quantities from countries such as the USA, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the third GERB government failed to complete within its mandate the interconnector with Greece, which is expected to be operational this fall.