Government Denies Knowledge of Russia’s Energy Plans for Croatia

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The Russian Ambassador to Croatia says his government made an offer to Croatia but never received a reply.

The Croatian government has not received any official offer, nor a request for a meeting, nor any information about the alleged plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin for investment in the energy infrastructure in Croatia, reports Večernji List on December 21, 2017.

This was stated by several sources from the government after Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov accused the government at an energy conference of not responding to Russia’s intention to participate in the gasification of Croatia, the construction of new power plants and other energy projects for more than a month. “Even if the proposal exists, it should be presented in an appropriate way,” commented a source from the government, adding that Ambassador Azimov is known to perform his ambassadorial duties in a somewhat “unusual” way.

Azimov claims that Russia is ready to deliver Croatia one billion cubic metres of gas per year and that infrastructure energy projects were also a topic of the meeting between Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-October when the President officially visited Russia. After that, Azimov claims, specific assistance was offered to Croatia.

The Russian Embassy did not want to explain what was precisely included in the offer in depth, or whether it was officially sent to the government. If the information given by Ambassador Azimov is correct, it is possible that the Russian proposal remained at the level of discussion between the two presidents in Russia.

The Office of the President didn’t release any more information about projects offered to Croatia during her visit to Moscow. What is known, and has so far been realised, is an intergovernmental agreement on the basis of which Croatia will supply Zarubezhneft’s refinery in Bosanski Brod in Bosnia with gas, which should resolve the lomg-standing issue of the pollution of the air in Slavonski Brod in Croatia.

From the developments surrounding this refinery, it’s clear that Croatia is not entirely negative in its attitude towards cooperation with Russian energy companies, although Azimov has accused Croatia of refusing strategic partnership under the pressure of the EU and the US. Yesterday, a memorandum was signed between a Bosnian gas company and the Croatian oil and gas company INA on the delivery of natural gas from the Croatian to the Bosnian gas system. Such cooperation has long since been rejected by the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia, and it is quite certain that the critical pressure was exerted by Russia.

At the energy conference, Azimov warned that Croatia could not easily achieve energy independence without cooperation with Russia. It is well known that the Government led by Andrej Plenković seems to be quite anxious about Russia and that the Prime Minister is inclined to follow the policies of the European People’s Party, which considers Russia and populism as the most significant threats.

Despite this, the Russian gas has not bypassed Croatia, since Gazprom is present in the Croatian market through Prvo Plinarsko Društvo. Also, unofficial sources say that a company connected with Russian capital has bought land on the island of Krk where Croatia intends to build an LNG terminal. Azimov has also asked the government why it was insisting on the construction of a floating terminal for liquefied gas when that gas would be much more expensive than gas from Russia. The LNG project on the island of Krk has received funding from the European Union in the amount of 104 million euros.

Translated from Večernji List.


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