Turkish Stream and Balkan Stream: Reality or a Myth?

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Since the STROYTRANS group of Russia declared in March 2014 that they had started building a pipeline in Macedonia a hot debate has erupted as to the fate of the shelved South Stream The questions involved with the construction of a new pipeline in Macedonia have made people wonder whether this could be an important part of a new gas pipeline system. The speculation in this regard was as the Russians had declared, that the new construction was related to the Balkan Stream. Moreover, people went further, questioning the fate of this new pipeline system regardless of whether it is called the Balkan Stream or something else, whether for example, it is intended to provide the needed connection between the Turkish Stream and the Russian Federation so that the 65 cubic meters of Russian gas that was previously expected to flow via the South Stream might reach Southern and Central Europe. The retreat of the Russians from the South Stream project in December 2014 stemmed from both the upsurge of negative relations with the West as regards to the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis as well as Moscow’s continuous refusal to adapt the South Stream project in line with the conditions of the ‘EU Third Energy Package’. What is more important is that despite the opposition to the previous South Stream project, with the construction of this new Macedonian pipeline, the fate of the Balkan Stream has now moved from being on paper to a project under construction and one which should reach completion next summer with the backing of Russian finance. It is true that earlier opposition to the South Stream is continuing; there are multiple oppositions to the idea of bringing up a Balkan Stream including expressions of concern that it might go the same route as the South Stream, but this time by replacing Bulgaria with Macedonia and the manner in which it might undermine the viability of the Western backed TANAP/TAP project. Contrary to this, those who favor the Balkan Stream and are ready to see this project achieve reality expect it to have a connection to the Turkish Stream, asserting that opponents of the Balkan Stream are in fact mistaken. In order  to investigate the current debate in the aftermath of the South Stream cancellation, we will focus on what the Balkan Stream and the Turkish Stream may mean for the Southern and Eastern European countries’ and their imminent needs to meet their gas demands from abroad.




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