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BRUSSELS, April 23. (ITAR-TASS). The European Commission is not yet ready to hold a four-party meeting on gas with Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia in Bratislava on April 24, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on Wednesday, April 23.
He said the place and the date of the meeting had not been determined yet. The energy ministers of the European Union, Ukraine and Slovakia will meet in Bratislava to discuss reverse gas supplies to Kiev.
“The format and topic of the meeting have changed several times over the past couple of days,” Chizhov said, adding that two meetings were initially planned to be held in Bratislava one after another: one on reverse gas flows to Ukraine through Slovakia and it was supposed to be held in a trilateral format - European Commission, Ukraine and Slovakia. They would have been joined by Russia for the second meeting planned as a follow-up to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s reply to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s letter of April 17, which was published and which instructed [EU Energy Commissioner Guenther] Oettinger to begin a dialogue on all energy issues, including future energy supplies through Ukraine and Kiev’s gas debt,” the diplomat said.
Two days ago, Slovak Energy Minister Tomas Malatinsky sent invitations to all parties, including Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, to come to Bratislava.
“However, the European Commission informed us afterwards that it was not prepared to discuss a broad agenda. So the four-party ministerial meeting with Russia’s participation will be held separately,” Chizhov said.
Oettinger sent a letter to Novak on April 23, stating his intention to convene such a meeting but “did not specify either its place or date”.
Novak, in turn, invited Oettinger to meet in Moscow on April 28 and discuss the Ukrainian gas issue.
The minister is prepared to discuss other proposals concerning the venue and time of the meeting, his spokesperson Olga Golant told ITAR-TASS.
Oettinger has reaffirmed the European Commission’s readiness to conduct multilateral gas talks at the political level.
At present, the gas talks are expected to be held between different expert groups: between Slovak and Ukrainian gas operators and within the Slovakia-Ukraine-EU format, the spokesperson said.
The European Commissioner invited Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuri Prodan to tripartite consultations, Oettinger’s spokesperson said, adding that their date and place had not been specified yet.