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21 November, 2013 10:08   ▪  

Financial Times: Brussels paves way for Ukraine gas deal with Slovakia

“The EU has unblocked a long-stalled gas deal to help Ukraine cut its dependence on Russia. The deal would allow Ukraine to receive gas shipments from neighbouring Slovakia,” The Financial Times reports.

“In terms of content we have found a compromise, we struck a deal . . . which should be officially signed between Ukraine and Slovakia in the next few days,” said a commission spokesperson in Brussels.
EU officials said that they hoped the gas pipeline agreement would help convince Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president, to fulfil one of the last outstanding preconditions it has set to finalise the Association Agreement with the EU:, the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the country’s jailed opposition leader.

The gas agreement would give Ukraine more leverage as it seeks to negotiate a reduction in the high price it pays for Russian supplies.

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José Manuel Barroso, the commission president, appealed to Robert Fico, Slovakian prime minister, on the sidelines of a meeting of EU leaders in October and also discussed the matter with Mr Yanukovich last Friday, according to EU officials.

A Ukrainian official said in the commentary to Financial Times it was “very probable” that agreements would be signed in coming days, opening up gas imports through the Slovak corridor.

The official said the new deal could allow Ukraine to eventually import “up to 15 billion cubic metres” of gas a year from European markets at prices lower than Russia’s Gazprom currently charges. Along with energy efficiency efforts, the agreement could allow Ukraine to halve imports of more expensive gas from Russia, the official said.

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