A pipeline connector between Serbia and Bulgaria that will reduce Serbia's dependance on Russian gas by giving it access to Azerbaijan exports was inaugurated Sunday, Serbia's state-run RTS television reported.

"We will get another source of supply," Serbia's Energy Minister Dubravka Djedovic Handanovic said at an event near the southern town of Nis, RTS reported.

The 170-kilometre (105-mile) pipeline will allow Serbia to import up to 400 million cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan, according to a deal signed in November between the Serbian and Azeri gas companies, Srbijagas and SOCAR.

Serbia's annual gas demand is around three billion cubic meters.

The opening ceremony was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Bulgarian and Azeri counterparts, Rumen Radev and Ilham Aliyev.

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Handanovic said the pipeline would grant Serbia access to the liquified natural gas terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece.

In recent decades, Serbia has relied almost exclusively on Russia for its gas supplies, building pipelines solely for Russian gas and selling a majority stake of its state-owned oil and gas company, NIS, to Russia's energy giant Gazprom.

Last year, Belgrade signed a long-term contract to continue importing Russian gas, drawing a rebuke from Brussels as the European Union tries to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

While Serbia, which aspires to join the European Union, has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has refused to take part in the Western sanctions against Moscow.

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The gas pipeline, which runs through Bulgaria, transports Russian gas to Serbia and Hungary. The Turkish Stream will remain the only pipeline carrying Russian gas to the EU from the beginning of 2025.
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