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Outcome of gas talks in Brussels can be called successful — Russia’s EU envoy

October 31, 2014, 18:03 UTC+3
In an interview with Rossiya-24 TV channel Vladimir Chizhov touched upon issues of Russia-Ukraine gas agreements, as well as the upcoming elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and EU sanctions
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© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. The results of the latest gas talks in Brussels involving Russia, the European Union and Ukraine can be called successful, Russia’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said Friday.

“I am glad to assess the results as successful,” Chizhov told the Rossiya 24 TV channel. “Negotiators will have to return to discussions of further parameters of interaction in the sphere.”

He said the West “had big fears for its fate in the winter period, taking into account the controversial experience of interaction with Ukraine as a transit country in the past years, when cases of unauthorized tapping took place, which reduced the volume of Russian gas supplies to EU countries.”

“The solution is temporary, a compromise, but a compromise beneficial for everyone,” Chizhov said.

Russia-Ukraine gas deal

Ukraine will receive gas in volumes it will order and prepay on the monthly basis, Russia’s permanent representative to the European Union said.

“The meaning of the agreement is the following: first, in the next few days, (Ukraine) will repay part of the outstanding debt — $1.4 billion for November-December 2013. Only after that will Gazprom receive an application for November,” Chizhov said on the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

Ukraine’s debt to Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom stands at $5.3 billion. Out of the sum, $1.4 billion is to be repaid by the end of October, and a total of $3.1 billion will be repaid by the end of the year, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this month.

Gazprom on June 16 switched Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz to prepayment for gas supplies because Kiev failed to pay part of its gas debt by the deadline of 10:00 Moscow Time on June 16.

Russian gas supplies to Ukraine for its own needs were halted, but transit volumes were reportedly passing via Ukraine to Europe in line with the schedule.

At their latest two-day gas talks on October 29-30, Russia, the European Union and Ukraine agreed on resumption of Russian gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers, on guarantees of gas transit to the EU and partial repayment of Kiev’s gas debts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged October 17 that Russia will provide enough gas to Europe in winter.

In late 2008 - early 2009, a gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev saw Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1, 2009 over unpaid debts.

Gas deliveries to European consumers were affected because Ukraine apparently started siphoning off transited gas. The dispute was resolved on January 18, 2009 with a new gas contract.

Further talks on summer gas supplies

The date for the start of talks on gas supplies in the summer of 2015 is still unknown and would be set later, Vladimir Chizhov went on to say.

“As for the talks on summer supplies, they should be initiated by consumers who should turn to the seller. The objective situation is such that it will be impossible (for Ukraine) to do without the Russian gas. The date for the new talks, however, has not yet been set. It is also unknown who is going to represent the European Union at these talks,” Chizhov explained.

He said that European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic was most likely to represent EU at the new gas talks after a newly-appointed European Commission headed by Jean Claude Juncker begins its work on November 1.

Donetsk, Luhansk upcoming elections

The European Union's position on the non-recognition of forthcoming elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics is “illogical” as the polls may help the conflict's resolution, Russia’s envoy to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said.

The diplomat said we should wait until Monday although the European Union’s attitude towards the elections was already clear.

“We have a statement by (EU foreign policy chief) Catherine Ashton saying that the EU does not recognize these elections, considering them illegitimate as they run counter to the Minsk agreements,” Chizhov said.

“This is an illogical position,” he went on to say, noting that the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum were designed to help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and reach a political settlement.

Russia has recognized the results of Ukraine's national parliamentary elections on October 26 “despite all the flaws, violence and intimidation during the election campaign”, Chizhov said.

“But we think this has opened up prospects for forming a government which will address the problems, including settlement of the crisis in the east, and will be able to ensure negotiations,” he said, adding that the Donetsk and Lugansk republics also “need people having power and authority”.

“They now have people's trust and want to hold the elections in order to get a democratic mandate from the population and represent its interests in talks with Kiev," he said.

EU sanctions against Russia

As for the sanctions against Russia Vladimir Chizhov said that the European Union is expected to make another attempt to revise them in the last days of January. 

“The sanctions theme is expected to prop up formally in the last days of January as part of regular discussions on sanctions revision which the European External Action Service and the European Commission have been ordered to hold every three months. The last revision took place on October 28,” Chizhov said.

“This theme is constantly present at meetings held in various formats and at various levels. It may be raised at a regular EU summit in mid-December,” Chizhov went on to say noting that the EU leaders had shifted the discussion of that hot and thorny issue to a lower level — the Committee of Permanent Representatives or COREPER.

Chizhov said Russia would not ask (EU) to lift the sanctions or wait for favors.

“Our economy is coping with the sanctions quite well though it would be wrong to say that they were not producing any harmful impact at all. However, the true damage from these sanctions should be assessed not in terms of separate economies of Russia and the European Union but the very idea of creating a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. This idea is based on reciprocal trust, which the sanctions are undermining,” Chizhov said in conclusion.

 

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