Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Respected prime ministers!
I would like to welcome you once again, despite the fact that the reason for our meeting today is not a very happy one.
Unfortunately, Ukraine continues to block gas supplies. And despite all the efforts that Russia has made, despite the appearance of European Union observers, despite reaching agreement on an array of questions regarding supervision, the valve on the Ukrainian side of the border has not been opened.
And I would like to specifically emphasize that we are not talking about some sort of supplementary pipe – I am referring to the main export pipeline. This is the main export channel, with a diameter of 1420 millimeters, which has traditionally been used to supply gas to Europe.
I hope that you were able to see this situation in person during your visit to OJSC Gazprom and ascertain that all technological resolutions have been carried out; observers are sitting in their respective places and documenting their corresponding positions.
This is sad, because it is actually transferring a conflict that was initially seen as an economic one into the political sphere.
I would like to inform you that I have just spoken with the President of the European Commission, Mr. Barroso, notified him of the current situation, and told him about the problems we have here, as well as the very serious problems that have accumulated for our partners – consumer countries, which you represent.
In this regard, I would like to voice an idea that, I think, could help to resolve the current crisis and prevent a repeat of this kind of crisis in the future.
I suggest holding a summit in Moscow on Saturday, January 17 of this year, bringing together the heads of states and governments that receive gas from the Russian Federation, or serve as transit states. I invite you to take part in this meeting. I feel that, at the very least, we can consider two issues during this summit. The first is to try to put an end to this conflict, to encourage Ukraine to make necessary technical resolutions. The second is to consider the issue of preventing this type of conflict in the future, meaning that we should not become hostages of political situation that is occurring in other countries.
I remind you that today the Prime Minister of Ukraine denounced the President of Ukraine, saying that his actions resulted in breaking agreements with the Russian Federation. These are their own internal matters, but unfortunately, today we are all hostages of the system of power that has formed there. In essence, we are hostages of a political crisis that has been playing out recently in Ukraine.
Ukraine, as a country that aims for unity and normal, full-fledged relations with the European Union, for building relations with all of the governments present here, should, in my opinion, recognize its responsibility. For this reason, I believe that developing rules for the future is also a very important topic for discussion.
In addition to all this, we must think about how to get ourselves out of the current situation. As far as I understand, our colleagues have suggestions of their own – in any case, our colleagues from Slovakia voiced an idea today about supplying gas through a system of swapping, where Ukraine would supply gas to Slovakia from its own underground repositories, and Russia, in turn, would replace Ukraine’s gas supplies. The administrators of JSC Gazprom have informed me that we have the technical capability to do that. So, if the Ukrainian partners accept this idea, we are willing to implement it immediately.
There are also other issues that we could consider. Today, the Ukrainian economy is in a very difficult state, and our Ukrainian partners tell us this all the time. We have, on many occasions, suggested various types of ideas for making loans; in particular, the idea was voiced that Russia, along with other European Union countries, could proportionally credit future gas deliveries, but these deliveries, of course, would be at market prices, the prices paid for this gas by respectable countries that are represented at this table here today. I suggested this option to President Yushchenko, but so far, unfortunately, I have not received a reply. I don’t know, perhaps they do not need loan money.
There are other options as well. We constantly supply gas, and we pay Ukraine for its transit; consequently, that money can also be used as a means of payment. With some motivation, I think it is entirely possible to find a method for settling our accounts.
I hope that the meeting taking place on Saturday will help us find a way out of the current crisis situation and avoid similar situations in the future.
I would like to once again extend an invitation to Saturday’s meeting and thank you for coming to Russia today to discuss this complicated problem.