Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (R) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, on Jan. 17, 2019. Strategic cooperation between Serbia and Russia will strengthen with the signing of over 20 agreements, the presidents of the two countries agreed here on Thursday after their meeting. (Xinhua/Predrag Milosavljevic)
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russia has resources and is ready to extend the TurkStream gas pipeline to Europe across Bulgaria and Serbia, if governments of European Union (EU) member countries along the route persuade Brussels to give them the green light, Russian President Vladimir Putin said here on Thursday.
Putin arrived in Belgrade Thursday for an official visit to Serbia.
At a joint press conference with his counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, Putin said that Russia, which has enough resources and means, is ready to invest around 1.4 billion U.S. dollars in the extension of the recently-constructed pipeline that already connects Russia and Turkey across the Black Sea, in order to enable another gas transport route to Europe.
For his part, Russia is already conducting preparation for such work as there are high interests among European consumers, but repeated that EU states, such as Bulgaria and Hungary, should seek guarantees from Brussels.
And whether the gas infrastructure will pass through Serbia also depends on other countries along the route, most of which are EU members, Putin added.
"It comes down to the ability of these countries to defend their national interests in a dialogue with European structures," Putin stressed.
The TurkStream natural gas pipeline is expected to carry a total of 31.5 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas per year to Turkey and Europe, bypassing Ukraine. Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom is planning to start the construction of the overland section of TurkStream in 2019.
Putin said that besides the Nord Stream and the TurkStream, there is a possibility that the old gas transit route across Ukraine will continue to exist in order to meet the rising demand of European countries for gas, which last year imported 200 billion cubic meters from Russia.
Vucic said that Serbia has high expectations from the TurkStream, and is resilient to all pressures coming from the EU or elsewhere because "Serbia needs to get the gas for its companies".
He reminded that the country so far obtained the Russian gas across Hungary and Ukraine, but would now prefer to get it from the TurkStream, across Bulgaria.