Serbia Plans Nearly $12 Billion in Pipeline, Energy Projects

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's new government plans to invest 12 billion euros ($11.83 billion) in energy projects, including oil and gas pipelines and increased power production capacity, prime minister designate Ana Brnabic told parliament on Tuesday.

"Energy and new energy policy will be an absolute priority," Brnabic, a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, said in a presentation to seek support for a third term as prime minister.

The landlocked country imports electricity and relies heavily on Russia for gas delivered via Turkey and oil delivered via Croatia.

Brnabic said the new government would diversify its options by completing a gas link with Bulgaria to allow it to connect with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Greece.

She said her new government would also increase hydropower capacity and focus on building an oil pipeline to Hungary.

The parliament, in which the ruling party has 120 of the 250 seats will hold a vote after discussion, most probably on Wednesday, which is expected to confirm Brnabic as prime minister.

When first elected in 2017, Brnabic was Serbia's first female and first openly gay prime minister.

Serbia is a candidate for European Union membership and Brnabic said the EU was the country's "strategic destination".

"The entire region can be prosperous and stable only as a member of the wider European family," she said, but added Serbia should be allowed to have independent foreign and security policy.

Serbia has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations but has refused to join sanctions against Moscow even though EU officials have called on Serbia to harmonize its policy with the bloc.

The election of the new Serbian government will follow nearly seven months after elections in April.

The formal announcement of results was delayed by voting irregularities at one polling station, preventing parliament from being convened.

($1 = 1.0140 euros)

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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