Putin vows reliability in energy supply

22nd January 2007, Comments 0 comments

22 January 2007, Sochi, Russia (dpa) - Russian President Vladimir Putin promised German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Europe could count on Russia as a reliable partner for future energy supplies and offered to set up a stock of Russian gas in Germany. After talks on the Black Sea resort of Sochi Sunday, Putin told the chancellor that Russia was working to build new routes of transport for its energy supplies to the European Union, which gets 30 per cent of its oil imports from Russia. A camp storing Russi

22 January 2007

Sochi, Russia (dpa) - Russian President Vladimir Putin promised German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Europe could count on Russia as a reliable partner for future energy supplies and offered to set up a stock of Russian gas in Germany.

After talks on the Black Sea resort of Sochi Sunday, Putin told the chancellor that Russia was working to build new routes of transport for its energy supplies to the European Union, which gets 30 per cent of its oil imports from Russia.

A camp storing Russian gas could be set up in Germany allowing the country to take over a distribution function in Europe, he said.

As a result of the three-day stoppage earlier this month which Russia blamed on its neighbour Belarus, Russia was now trying to reduce the dependency on transit countries and this necessitated the construction of a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea as well as increased exports via the port of Primorsk near Saint Petersburg, Putin said.

Moscow had a great interest in global energy security, he added. Russia's move had cut oil supplies to Europe through a pipeline running through Belarus.

Germany and other EU states were annoyed by a lack of warning from Moscow when Russia stopped pumping oil through Belarus. Officials in Berlin said it would have been friendly, if Russia had given the West prior notice.

Including energy security in a new partnership agreement between Russia and the EU was a "question of taste," Putin added, saying there definitely should be "clear, written rules" to adhere to.

Poland is currently blocking the start of negotiations on a new partnership agreement between Russia and the EU.

Merkel, who was paying her first visit to Russia since Germany took over the twin presidencies of the EU and Group of Eight leading industrial nations on January 1, told Putin that communications needed to be improved "in order to avoid irritations."

Divergences in the two leaders' stances became apparent on the future of the breakaway southern Serbian province of Kosovo with Putin saying its future must not be decided under pressure from outside. Russia has traditionally been a protector of Serbia and his remarks came amid parliamentary elections Sunday in Serbia.

"A solution to the problem can only function in the long term if it is acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina," Putin told journalists. Any envisaged solution must be applied universally, he said.

Merkel pointed out that the United Nations is responsible for the future of Kosovo. Berlin has backed an UN proposal which foresees monitored independence for the predominantly Albanian province, but which Moscow rejects.

In terms of reviving the Mideast Quartet comprising the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States, Putin supported Merkel's aim to hold a meeting soon with the other members to bring Israel and the Palestinians back into peace negotiations.

In reference to Iran's controversial nuclear programme, Merkel said it was important to show Tehran that the door to further negotiations was still open.

While Merkel does not enjoy the close relationship with Putin that her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder did, the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere, a Kremlin official said.

Merkel also broached human rights in Russia during her talks and asked Putin whether progress had been made in solving the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya last October.

"The Russian legal authorities are working at full speed," Putin said, but there were no new findings.

Merkel is travelling without any senior members of the foreign ministry in her delegation. A spokesman for the chancellor denied a Sunday newspaper report that this was because of a rift in policy over Russia.

The Russian hosts had requested that the circle of negotiating partners be limited, a source told dpa.

Merkel announced that the next German-Russian government consultations would be held in autumn 2007 in Wiesbaden, central Germany.

DPA

Subject: German news

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