Serbia to Delay Ratifying Energy Deal

Serbian lawmakers will delay ratifying an oil and gas agreement with Gazprom until May 11 elections are held, Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said.

The seven ministers from the Democratic Party of Serbia will not send the deal to the parliament to rush through its ratification before the election because it is a "campaign move," Sutanovac said.

"If we ratify the deal after elections, it would be good," Sutanovac said. "If we don't, it will not be the end of the world as we will continue to work in that direction as such a deal is in Serbia's strategic interest."

He also noted that under the constitution, an outgoing government cannot propose laws or ratification of treaties to the outgoing parliament.

Serbia agreed on Jan. 22, pending ratification, to sell 51 percent of Naftna Industrija Srbije to Gazprom and to open talks on building a pipeline through Serbia to Italy. Gazprom offered 400 million euros ($584 million) for NIS and a further 500 million euros in investment.