EU ready to take part in gas-contract revision talks between Ukraine, Russia - European Union Energy Commissioner

The European Union is prepared to play a role in the negotiations over gas contracts between Ukraine and Russia, but for that to happen there needs to be an invitation, European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

"We have proposed a scheme according to which the negotiations will become trilateral, and the European Union will join them. And now the thing is with your minister. If he thinks it possible, then he will send us an invitation. No such invitation has come yet," Oettinger said in a Kommersant-Ukraine interview published on Monday. The EU is receiving information on the talks between the two countries, but is not directly involved, he said.

"There are bilateral negotiations underway between Kiev and Moscow, between Gazprom and your government. We are receiving certain information and giving certain advice, but not more than that. A decision on bringing another participant into the negotiations is possible, but that is your purview," Oettinger said.

Ukraine's claims that the European Union is supporting the building of the bypassing South Stream gas pipeline are incorrect, he said.

"Gazprom is the South Stream investor, there is no money there from our side. There are several countries, for example Bulgaria, a member of the European Union, or Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, that want to be part of the consortium. We accept this as fact, but are not putting money or other support into the consortium. The EU has no instruments for blocking South Stream," Oettinger said.

The agreement signed in January of 2009 by Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy and Gazprom for the delivery and transit of natural gas does not suit Ukraine, which has so far unsuccessfully been trying to get the pricing aspects of the contract changed. Naftogaz Ukrainy therefore intends to buy less Russian gas, and last November began using its gas-transport capacity in reverse direction in order to buy gas in Europe.

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