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South-East European energy summit in Zagreb - Romanian President decries energy blackmail - Russian President calls for a climate of trust

Romanian President Traian Băsescu on June 24 pleaded at the Zagreb energy summit for a regional energy exchange. Băsescu added that Romania would never accept the ideea of energy delivery as an instrument of political pressure.

Speaking at the same energy summit in Zagreb, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Balkan leaders to trust Russia's economic intentions in the Balkans,. Putin highlighted trust as a key issue, adding "For that we need transparency, the rule of law and the absence of any discrimination in the openness of markets.". Putin also said Russia's aim is to make a "zone of stability and security" in the Balkans.

Putin used his platform at the Zagreb summit to promote a number of energy projects in the region. A key proposal is the creation of what Putin described as a "Black Sea electricity energy ring that would link all European countries in the Black Sea region." For that to happen, Putin called for "a project to synchronize the energy systems of Western, Central, and Southern Europe with the energy systems of the CIS and the Baltic states," which would, he said, enable Europe and Russia to "formulate the main aspects of a common energy market."

Another proposal is to link Russia's Druzhba and Croatia's Adria oil pipelines. Russia is currently promoting plans to build an oil pipeline between Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis in Greece and to lay a gas pipeline under the Black Sea. Russia and its partners signed a formal agreement in March to build the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, and Russia's Gazprom and Italy's ENI agreed on June 23 to undertake a feasibility study of the Black Sea project.

Separate EU plans envisage a pipeline -- known as Nabucco -- through the Balkans that would bring gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia and a Pan-European Oil Pipeline running from the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta to Italy, while the United States is the chief sponsor of an oil pipeline -- the AMBO project -- that would link Bulgaria and Albania.

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