EU tells Ukraine not to challenge gas deal

11:37, 27 January 2009
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Barroso will put pressure on Yushchenko?

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso will today (27 January) put pressure on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko not to challenge the recent gas deal, which allowed supplies of Russian gas to Europe to resume after a twenty-day crisis, EurActive reports.

Securing the Russian-Ukraine gas deal is the main reason behind Yushchenko`s visit to Brussels, according to Ukraine`s Deputy Prime Minister Hrihoriy Nemyria, speaking in Brussels on Monday (26 January) after being questioned by EurActiv as to the political background of his visit.

Fears that the ruling Ukrainian coalition might unravel the agreement rose after reports suggested that Yushchenko had announced his intention to re-write the deal, signed on 17 January between Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The information had been leaked by Oleksander Shlapak, an economic aide to Yushchenko.

Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, one of the countries worst hit by the crisis, reportedly described the attempts by Yushchenko as "completely crazy".

Speaking on Monday at a public debate organised in Brussels by the German Marshall Fund of the US, Nemyria seemingly launched an attack on the official who leaked the information. "Usually we say that a civil servant has to be colourless, tasteless and odourless. Well, this civil servant is colourless and tasteless, but as for the smell, I think he is quite smelly," Nemyria said.

The deputy prime minister hinted that new problems might arise. Belarus has not yet signed a new gas agreement with Russia, which Nemyria described as "not normal".

From Brussels, Yushchenko will fly to the Polish city of Wroclaw, where he will meet Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. The 76% drop in gas supplies to Poland, after reductions in imports via Ukraine and Belarus, appears to be a major issue on the agenda.

Poland has been importing increasing amounts of gas through Belarus to partially compensate for the complete halt of deliveries through Ukraine during the gas crisis.


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