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BERLIN, May 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says there are “good prospects” of settling the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
“We should use this opportunity to reach a settlement over gas supplies to Ukraine,” Steinmeier told an international conference in Berlin, adding that European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger was working hard on this solution.
“It also depends on the energy policy whether we will be able to defuse the conflict,” the foreign minister said. “There is no alternative to this.”
“Even during the Cold War, we managed for many decades to ensure that major political conflicts of (two) systems did not affect energy supplies,” he said, noting that the higher the dependence of certain European Union member states on energy imports, the greater are political tensions there.
“There is no quick solution to this problem,” Steinmeier said, adding that the only way out was “a medium-term or a long-term diversification process.”
Ivan Grachev, Russia’s State Duma lawmaker, said Ukraine “should, first of all, pay its gas debt” to settle the gas dispute with Russia. He also rejected the accusations that Moscow used its energy resources as an instrument of political pressure on Kiev. “Russia has always fulfilled its contractual obligations,” Grachev said.
Grachev doubted the much debated possibility of reducing energy consumption in the European Union by 20%. “I think this is an utopia,” he said, adding that solar energy would never cost as little as gas.