Gas Agreements revision will create more risks for Ukraine-expert opinion
According to the press release of Gorshenin Institute passed to UNIAN, Ukrainian and Russian experts expressed their opinions in a survey carried out by Gorshenin Institute regarding Yuschenko’s statements that Yulia Tymoshenko in cooperation with “Naftogas Ukrainy” has to revise Ukraine’s agreement with Russia on gas supplies to Ukraine.
Director of the Ukrainian branch of the CIS Institute Vladimir Kornilov says one has to consider both parties’ positions when it comes to bilateral agreements. You have to listen to Russia. Today we only hear statements from Ukrainian politicians, including high level officials, as if the future of this agreement depends entirely on Ukrainian side and Russia just has to take everything as a given. According to the expert Russia is ready and willing to clarify the details and provisions regarding among other things the transit issue, but there has to be a discussion. When Ukrainian President says that Ukraine does not have to pay for gas that was not supplied but Russia on the other hand has an obligation to pay Ukraine for the transit of gas that never been transferred - I have a suspicion that Ukrainian politicians do not understand in principle the essence of bilateral agreements. And most importantly they don’t understand and therefore can not explain why Russia has to agree to this. So if Ukraine is going to revise provisions in its favor Kiev has to explain to Moscow what Russia will be getting in exchange. Now it’s being assumed that Russia has to just generously out of goodness of its heart give Ukraine yet another gift, says Mr. Kornoliv.
Director of the Foreign Policy Institute of the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Alexander Paliy thinks that there is a way to rewrite this agreement. Let’s not forget that Russia under pressure did modify agreements with Ukraine in the past. Expert says that Ukraine has to use the same leverage. It is rather difficult and problematic for Ukraine to use such pressure but it is possible. Besides Ukraine has a number of other ways to influence Russia and perhaps this situation calls for engagement of international players. We have to ask EU and the US to put pressure on Russia regarding this situation and a number of other issues. The expert added that Russia was very unhappy about the agreement reached with EU concerning our transit system last March. Perhaps we have to make those agreements even less desirable for Russia to get Kremlin’s attention and provoke the dialogue.
Head of the International Center for Political expertise Yevgeniy Minchenko is not surprised that Ukraine is experiencing difficulties paying for gas this year. The problem is not between these two companies “Naftogas” and “Gasprom”. There is nothing wrong with the provisions of the agreement either. Mr. Minchenko highlighted a number of problems within Ukraine – decision not to increase gas prices for Ukrainians made with the populist agenda in mind, inadequate prices for gas produced in Ukraine, freeze on offshore drilling on the Black Sea and also the fact that “Naftogas” has become a milk cow for the budget. Therefore gas payment problems have nothing to do with the agreement itself but rather with inadequacies of Ukrainian internal policies and functioning of all government branches. The main problem is the absence of strategic vision and unified efforts on the part of all government branches and the fact that day-to-day political issues and individual agendas take priority. According to the expert even if the revision takes place it won’t change anything. It won’t have any impact on Ukrainian industry or Ukrainian people therefore I don’t think that the Russians are motivated to revisit these contracts that are by the way valid for 11 years.
Head of Gorshenin institute Kost Bondarenko thinks that Yuschenko’s initiative to revise gas agreements is very untimely. Most likely he’s using the good old Bolshevik formula “the worse-the better”, which he has inherited from the communist era. Making declarations as to the possibility of gas agreements’ revision in the beginning of the heating season on the eve of cold winter creates more risks for Ukraine. If Victor Yuschenko thinks that those contracts were not fair why didn’t he raise this issue in spring or during summer time when Ukraine did not rely on gas so heavily. Why all these agreements were not revised right after the signing. According to the expert, today’s President’s position proves that he wants to destabilize political situation on the eve of presidential elections and to get more personal political exposure. I don’t see any good will on his part to assure energetic security of Ukraine, I only see desire to improve his own ratings and at the same time to bring Prime-Minister’s ratings down.