North Macedonia is prepared to sue the European Commission and Bulgaria in international courts if it doesn’t get the possibility to import non-Russian natural gas via Bulgaria, thereby avoiding the costs of Bulgaria’s tax on Russian gas.
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski said if his country can’t import non-Russian gas through Bulgaria, and the tax remains in force, it would lift the prices of heating and natural gas by 20% for consumers, local media reported.
Of note, on October 13, Bulgaria introduced an excise tax of BGN 20 (USD 10.75) per MWh for the transit of Russian natural gas through its territory, translating to USD 113 per 1,000 cubic meters.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia and Serbia receive gas from Russia through Bulgaria. Bulgaria has not received any Russian gas since the end of April 2022, when it refused to pay for it in rubles.
Hungary, North Macedonia and Serbia have publicly opposed Bulgaria’s new tax
Hungary and Serbia also protested against the tax, saying Bulgaria’s move was aimed against them.
Prime Minister Kovačevski said North Macedonia would not give up on the demand to get the possibility to import non-Russian gas and for the tax to be abolished. He argued the imposition of the levy wasn’t fair and that it had nothing in common with market principles and EU directives.
If necessary, the government will file a lawsuit before international courts, Kovačevski stressed.
North Macedonia can import gas only through Bulgaria. The authorities in Skopje claim there are no available capacities to purchase non-Russian gas and that therefore a surge in costs can’t be avoided.
Kovačevski: Discussions are underway both at the EU level and with Bulgaria to find a solution
Kovačevski said he and Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi told the European Commission that the tax should not be introduced, given that Bulgaria gave the entire transport capacity for North Macedonia to Gazprom.
Talks are currently being held both at the European Union level and with Bulgaria to enable an alternative, Kovačevski said and added that last year the solution was found to allow North Macedonia to import non-Russian gas through Bulgaria.
Bekteši: North Macedonia will wait for the EU’s response until the end of November
Bekteshi said the government would wait until the end of November for a response from the European Commission.
If North Macedonia doesn’t get the possibility to buy non-Russian gas, it will ask the EU’s executive body for compensation for non-compliance with its directives, the minister underscored, as reported by state news agency MIA. Moreover, he pointed to the possibility of seeking justice in international courts for the issue with the European Commission and Bulgaria’s transmission system operator Bulgartransgaz.
Of note, the European Commission said it is analyzing the effects of Bulgaria’s transit tax on Russian gas on affected countries. According to media reports, Bulgaria could earn EUR 1.2 billion to EUR 1.5 billion from the tax.