The U.S. Ambassador Eric Rubin gave extensive interview to Capital Weekly on February 22nd. He spoke on various topics from energy independence, relations with Russia, China, Europe, through defense systems deployment in CEE, to media freedom. Amcham.bg provides their highlights in English.
Energy Diversification of Bulgaria
Ambassador Rubin pointed out the importance of the diversification of the energy supply. This topic is very important for Bulgaria and Europe. “Recently the State Secretary Mike Pompeo expressed our biggest concern – this process to start a reverse development.”
Russian energy will play significant role for the supply in Europe, and no one proposes its replacement. The main question is what will happen if in an environment dominated by a sole supplier, the same increases its shares dramatically? This thread should be overcome with diversification.
With regard Bulgaria, there are two projects that are important for its energy security. First, it is the Bulgaria-Greece interconnector IGB. It is not its construction has not started yet. If it starts operation in 2020 with Azeri gas, on the Bulgarian market you will have second source of energy. This connector increases Bulgaria’s potential to receive LNG gas from the Alexandroupoli terminal.
Diversification leads to decrease of the end-consumer prices.
The second important for Bulgaria project is those of Westinghouse for fuel cells testing for the Kozloduy NPP. There is a significant progress. When the tests pass well, Bulgaria will have a second supplier of nuclear fuel.
The lack or the incompletion and delay of these projects, which combined with the topic of the Russian gas concerns us a lot.
The United States are against North Stream 2 project. We do not support any project that redirects gas outside Ukraine or it could take away the transit fees and the energy security of the country. If a single country controls completely your energy supply, this country has huge power and influence on you.
On Venezuela money in Bulgaria
We were very impressed and satisfied by the rapid reaction of the Bulgarian authorities. We provided financial intelligence information. We follow an important credo: such corruption is disgusting even when people are starving in Venezuela while their country’s wealth is being robbed.
We believe in free and transparent competition in the technologies, as well as in all other sectors. Chinese companies have to compete along with all other companies in the world. However, they have to do it transparently, not to use government resources to win. We raised our biggest concern about the security of the Chinese technologies which we shared with our partners. There is some danger when installing Chinese equipment, and the consequences include incomparability with the American systems.
Our signal is that the U.S. will not use certain communication channels, if the Bulgarian institutions allow Huawei build such telecom systems. It is important to mention that we do not want to kick out no one from the market. It is about transparency, level playing field, cyber security.
The re-establishment of Radio Free Europe is an independent decision of their Board, and it was not being influenced by the U.S. Government.
I see it positive because of a single reason. More diversity of the opinions is of critical importance. My only comment about the media freedom in Bulgaria is that your country only could win of that. More diversification in media more opinions on the media market mean that the viewers, audience and readers can have information of a variety of sources. Now we observe concentration of media ownership in Bulgaria. The existence of solid independent media could only be seen as positive and their lack is visible, not only in Bulgaria.
Interview at Capital Weekly by Ognyan Georgiev, and Deyan Dimitrov