German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the resumption of oil supplies sent to Europe via Belarus and asked Russia to make provisions more reliable.
„Our calls to find a fast, constructive solution to the oil dispute did not fall on deaf ears in Moscow,” Steinmeier said in an e-mailed statement today. The minister, whose government holds the European Union's rotating six-month presidency, called for „dialogue with Russia to establish a durable and reliable basis for our future relations in the field of energy.” Russia shut down the Druzhba pipeline, which carries oil to Europe through Belarus, after accusing Belarus of siphoning from the pipe.
Talks between Russian and Belarusian officials, which got oil flowing again today, are continuing to reach a final agreement over pricing. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said officials „are not making judgment who is right and who is wrong” in the dispute. The 27-nation EU's only interest is in „reliability of supply,” he told a press conference in Brussels. „We should be very clear in our relations” with external energy suppliers and transport countries, Piebalgs said. „You never disrupt supply.”
Supply disruptions could be due to a variety of reasons, including environmental and technical factors, he said, adding that the EU must be prepared to deal with interruptions regardless of the cause. „You prepare for the worst but you work so there will be no supply crisis,” Piebalgs said. „There was no impact” on consumers from the Druzhba disruption, he added.
„The EU needs to bring its full political weight to bear,” said Germany's deputy finance minister, Joachim Wuermeling, who appeared with Piebalgs at today's press conference. „People have the idea that we're at the mercy of suppliers. We have to make clear that we're not just a large trading partner, we're also donors in many cases to Russia and Belarus, and a certain amount of consideration is due to us,” he said. (Bloomberg)