This week's signing of an agreement between Gazprom and Romania has considerably softened the stance of Bulgaria to Russian-sponsored South Stream gas pipeline project, writes Russian online edition Lenta.ru.
According to the article, this has lead to Bulgaria's taking up a more active position and signing important agreements with the Russian party Friday during the visit of Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.
The material considers a possible Romanian route of the pipe as an alternative to the initially proposed route passing through Bulgaria, and writes that Miller's visit to Bucharest has significantly improved the company's standing vis-a-vis Bulgarian authorities, who have been somewhat elusive in their commitment to the project.
The article, wittily entitled "Bulgaria pulled into South Stream in Romania", quotes experts saying that "Russia has used Romania precisely to pressure Bulgaria."
This has been something that Bulgarian Minister of Economy and Energy has repeatedly denied, including in the wake of his Friday meeting with Miller. Saturday he stated that both Bulgaria and Romania can simultaneously profit from the project.
Lenta.ru writes that Gazprom signed in Romania an agreement for a "technical and economic appraisal" of the version of the South Stream pipe passing through Romania, and that within the next week a similar document has to be signed with Bulgaria.
Saturday Minister Traikov stated that the Bulgarian counterpart to the Romanian Gazprom agreement has been signed back in 2008 and that Bulgaria is actually in a much more advanced stage of negotiations.
The Lenta.ru article nevertheless adds that both Bulgaria and Romania can balance Russian pressure, for both countries are also commited to the rival Nabucco pipeline project.
According to Lenta.ru information, Bulgaria is also insisting on preferential prices for Russian gas deliveries in return for its participation in South Stream.