Steinmeier calls on Ukraine to avoid another gas crisis
Which could result in further reductions in energy supplies
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned of new complications in the Russian-Ukrainian gas conflict, which could result in further reductions in energy supplies to Europe, Deutsche Welle reported.
Steinmeier was in Kiev with his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski, who seconded Berlin`s demands for Ukraine to do all it can to prevent another impasse with Russia.
"We are together here in Ukraine, in order to at least make the attempt to prevent another gas supply crisis. Whether that will be successful or not, we both can`t yet say," said Steinmeier, adding that there were "pressing interests to prevent another gas supply conflict."
Ukraine`s cash-strapped government has struggled this year to pay for Russian gas imports on time, provoking repeated Kremlin threats of another shut-down.
Steinmeier demanded that Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko cooperate with President Viktor Yushchenko in order to meet terms for further international financial aid needed to head off another gas conflict.
Ukraine`s funds soon to be depleted
Ukraine could run out of money to pay for Russian gas by as early as the beginning of July, according to the Ukrainian Sehodnia daily newspaper.
A gas rate price increase for Ukrainian gas consumers, among other reforms, are among the conditions set by international loan organizations to Ukraine for further credit.
Steinmeier and Sikorski also met former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, the leader of Ukraine`s opposition Regions Ukraine political party.
"I am sure that Ukraine will provide Europe with stable deliveries of fuel and energy resources; the gas and oil will keep going to Europe," Yanukovich said.
Disputes between Ukraine and Russia over gas prices led to a total cut-off of Russian gas exports to Ukraine in January.
The blockade, which lasted three weeks, dramatically reduced supplies to Europe, which receives roughly one-quarter of its natural gas needs via Ukrainian pipelines.
Should there be a crisis, EU Commission would step in
Meanwhile, EU energy experts have met with Russian and Ukrainian gas company officials amid fears of the energy crisis between Moscow and Kiev.
According to a draft report, the European Commission will be given powers to coordinate gas flows in the event of a gas crisis.
"In a European emergency, the commission may require member states to release gas from strategic gas storage," said the draft report.
During such gas emergencies EU states would have to provide the commission with daily updates of supply and demand forecasts for the following three days, with updates on withdrawals from stocks and the impact on their economies and power sectors.
The proposal, which is to be put before member states and the European Parliament for approval in the coming weeks, would also establish a permanent gas monitoring force composed of industry and commission experts.
EU states would still have to prepare national emergency plans, outlining the potential for cooperation with neighboring countries.