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Croatia will not take part in the construction of Bulgaria's Belene nuclear power plant, while Serbia is reportedly asking for a larger stake in the project.
"We won't participate in that project," said Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who met with her Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov on the margins of the Danube Summit in Bucharest on Monday.
"We have our own energy strategy that we are pursuing. We also presented some energy projects recently," Kosor said, adding that the refusal to join the Belene project would not affect Croatia's relations with Bulgaria.
"We will continue developing good friendly relations with Bulgaria whose authorities I thank for their strong support to Croatia's EU membership bid," said Kosor.
The Bulgarian government has called on Croatia and Serbia to join, as shareholders, in a project to build the nuclear power plant Belene on the Danube River that is being led by the Russian firm Atomstroyexport.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov sent official letters to Kosor and Serbian President Boris Tadic last week, inviting their countries to join in the Belene project with shares of 1, 1.5 or 2 per cent.
Bulgarian PM Borisov said the participation of Croatia and Serbia in the Belene project would make the project more pragmatic because the project would have a guaranteed market once the power plant was built.
Borisov and Tadic have reportedly already discussed the project and Borisov asked the two leaders to respond to his offer by November 13, when Russian PM Vladimir Putin will visit Sofia to discuss energy issues, including the Belene project.
Meanwhile, Serbian daily Blic reported on Tuesday that the government in Belgrade intends to ask for a larger stake in the project. The country's energy minister, Petar Skundric, said that Serbia is interested in participating, but lamented the short period given for a decision on becoming a stakeholder in the project.
The Belene project has had difficulty getting off the ground since it was launched several years ago.
Atomstroyexport signed in 2006 a preliminary agreement to construct the plant. But after Bulgaria’s new government came into office in July 2009, it moved to put the project on hold, reassessing the costs and potential benefits to the country.
The project was frozen when several months later a key German investor, RWE, withdrew.
Russia is expected to put pressure on Bulgaria to start the construction of a nuclear power plant at Belene during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Sofia, due to start on November 13.
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