Turkmenistan rejects Russia's EU pipeline criticism
Energy-rich Turkmenistan lashed out at its former master Russia on Wednesday for its criticism of negotiations with the European Union to deliver natural gas directly to Europe.
"A normal, civilized process of collaboration between sovereign and equal parties on the energy market is taking place," the Central Asian nation's foreign ministry said in a statement.
"This, however, causes an inappropriate response from certain officials and mass media in Russia," it said.
Russia, the world's largest energy producer, has criticized the 27-nation bloc for launching talks with ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on a Trans-Caspian Pipeline to supply gas through a pipeline running under the Caspian Sea.
Moscow has said that such a project would harm the Caspian Sea environment and cannot be started until a lingering dispute over the world's largest inland body of water is resolved by its littoral states.
Turkmenistan rejected this criticism.
Turkmenistan said it is "a sovereign right" of any Caspian Sea nation to construct a pipeline on the seabed it considers its own territory without any "special permission."
Ashgabat also said it rejected the idea of viewing the project in political terms, saying the negotiations were guided only by economic interests.
EU states purchase about a quarter of their gas from Russia and have been seeking various ways to curb that dependence -- a policy also supported by the United States amid fears of the Kremlin using energy as a political weapon.
Turkmenistan has recently been courted by both Russia and the EU for stable supplies that could be important in the viability of any major gas pipeline.
© 2011 AFP