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Medvedev stresses energy on German visit

©

Latest update : 2008-06-06

As he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made energy a key focus of his first trip to western Europe, offering to give his European partners more say in Russian oil and gas deliveries.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made energy a key focus of his first trip to western Europe on Thursday, promising Germany closer energy cooperation and offering Europe more say in Russian oil and gas deliveries.

 

Medvedev, sworn in last month, said transit pipelines for its oil and gas running through third states could be managed by international consortiums including European states.

 

Russia holds the world's biggest gas reserves and is the biggest gas exporter but fractious relations with the states through which it ships supplies have alarmed many customers.

 

The new consortiums would involve firms from Russia, the EU and transit states, Medvedev said during a speech in Berlin.

 

"That would represent the mutual dependence we are talking about in Europe," he said, giving no further details.

 

Moscow, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas needs, has tried for years to gain control of transit pipelines through ex-Soviet Ukraine, the route taken by the bulk of Russian gas exports bound for Europe.

 

Both Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended their countries' plans for a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to deliver Siberian gas to Europe, a project which has sparked concerns about environmental issues and energy security in some east European and Scandinavian countries.

 

Warsaw fears the Nord Stream, which bypasses its territory, would enable Russia to cut off gas supplies to Poland while continuing to deliver to western Europe.

 

Merkel said at a joint news conference with Medvedev she hoped other countries' concerns could be eased.

"Hopefully, the project will be implemented within the deadlines we talked about," Medvedev said.

 

Merkel said energy security would be an important part of talks between the EU and Russia on a new partnership deal, due to be launched at a summit this month.

 

She also said Berlin would not hinder possible investments by Russian firms in Germany's national energy network as they were business decisions.

 

 

 

DEMOCRACY

 

The leaders also discussed international issues and human rights questions, said Merkel. Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin opposed the West on Kosovo's independence and U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile defence system in Europe.

 

Medvedev said Europe needed a new comprehensive security pact to address key issues dividing the continent. "It would be a regional pact, based on the principles of the U.N. Charter which would clarify, finally, the meaning of the power factor in relations within the Euro-Atlantic community," Medvedev said in a speech to politicians and business figures.

 

Merkel, who has criticised Russia's democratic record, said the two had talked about oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is serving an eight-year term in a Siberian jail. The West believes he was punished by the Kremlin for his political ambitions.

 

Medvedev said criminal procedures should not be decided in talks between states or in political negotiations.

 

A German source has said Germany's foreign minister met Khodorkovsky's lawyer in Russia last month, and weekly Der Spiegel said the two discussed the possibility of getting Khodorkovsky transferred to Moscow on humanitarian grounds.

Date created : 2008-06-05

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