The claims of the Republic of Macedonia to Bulgaria regarding the tax imposed on Russian natural gas are groundless. Bulgaria, as a sovereign state, has every right to impose such fees. This was stated in an interview for BGNES by energy expert Ivan Hinovski, chairman of the Bulgarian Energy and Mining Forum (BEMF).
On October 26, the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Macedonia, Kreshnik Bekteshi, said that Skopje would seek compensation from Sofia in the event that what he called an “extraordinary energy tax” was introduced. Ivan Hinovski and I comment on whether the Macedonian claims are well-founded.
“Skopje can demand compensation, but it will not receive it, because it is the sovereign right of each country – to determine its policies on excises and fees,” the expert is emphatic.
He explained that this is not about the transit fee, which is included in the transit contract with Gazprom Export, but an excise tax on the “transit” service in “Turkey Stream”, which Bulgaria has the right to impose.
“In the beginning, the idea of this excise duty is to take it from Gazprom Export,” Hinovski said, adding that the idea of this step is to punish Gazprom for its policy towards Bulgaria.
BGNES reminds that a fee of BGN 20/MWh has been in force since October 13. It concerns the import and transit of Russian “blue fuel”. Parliament adopted changes to the Law on Control of the Implementation of Restrictive Measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. They were published in the State Gazette.
The decision provoked the violent reaction of Serbia and Hungary, who allowed themselves to threaten Bulgaria, stating that they will not leave this “hostile Bulgarian decision” without an adequate response.
On October 15, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic requested to hold a conversation with Rumen Radev regarding the decision to increase transit fees. Serbia imports Russian natural gas from Bulgaria via “Balkan Stream”, which is a continuation of “Turkish Stream”. The pipe is owned by the Bulgarian state.
On October 26, President Rumen Radev referred the introduced fee to the Constitutional Court. In his request to the Constitutional Court, he states that a number of provisions enshrined in the Bulgarian constitution have been violated.
On the same day, his position was sharply criticized by Finance Minister Asen Vasilev and Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov, who accused him that Radev’s actions were against the interests of Bulgaria and protecting Gazprom.
On October 30, the spokesperson of the European Commission, Tim McPhee, confirmed that Bulgaria has the right to decide how to dispose of the revenues from transit fees on Russian gas. /BGNES