May 21, 2018 / 2:50 PM / a year ago

Bulgaria open to Russian role in nuclear power project

FILE PHOTO: Bulgarian President Rumen Radev speaks during news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Bulgaria is reviving plans to develop its Belene nuclear power plant and is open to Russian participation in the project, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said on Monday after talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.

Bulgaria canceled the 2,000 megawatt plant in 2012 after failing to find investors. It had also faced pressure from Washington and Brussels to limit its energy dependence on Russia, which was under contract to build the plant.

The Bulgarian government decided last week to ask parliament to lift a ban on the development of the nuclear project.

“There are already announcements for the revival of the Belene nuclear project, which supposes Russian participation as well,” Radev told reporters on Monday after meeting Medvedev.

Bulgaria had to pay more than 620 million euros ($729 million) to Russian state nuclear company Rosatom for cancelling the Belene project, but also received nuclear parts for two 1,000 megawatt reactors. As a result, the country has to decide what to do with the equipment.

Separately, Radev also said he hoped that talks for direct Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria could be resumed.

The prime minister and government hold most power in Bulgaria and the president has a largely ceremonial role, but he can shape public opinion, appoint ambassadors and veto legislation.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Tsvetelia Tsolova; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Potter

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