It is well-known that the talks of the Ukrainian party with the Russian gas suppliers came to a deadlock after Kiev failed to reach an agreement with Moscow on the procedure of debt payment for the supplied gas.
As the energy resource supplies are decreasing and their prices are increasing, the Ukrainian Government is rapidly losing the confidence of the people therefore in spite of the fact that currently the Russian gas is supplied to Ukraine in full, it staked big hopes on the Yuschenko’s visit.
The Kazakhstan officials who attentively watch “the gas scandal” welcomed the Ukrainian leader without excessive honors. In particular, it was not Norsultan Nazarbayev who met him at the ramp but just Minister of Energy Sauat Mynbayev. President Nazarbayev welcomed his distinguished guest at the doors of his state residence “Ak Orda”.
Nevertheless, Yuschenko who is very sensitive to protocol matters did not respond to the violation of the ceremony. It is notable that just on the eve of his visit to Astana he signed a degree that in Ukraine he should be met by the Prime Minister, Speaker of the Rada and other top-ranking officials.
However this annoyance did not affect the talks. Nazarbayev claimed that his country understands urgent need of Ukraine in energy resources and can satisfy it but the decisions in this sphere should be agreed upon with Moscow as a principal supplier of the natural gas to Ukraine.
Besides, the parties reached an agreement on construction of a refinery in the Ukrainian territory to deepen cooperation between the two countries. “Ukraine is ready to provide facilities for the construction of the refinery at any point within the available transport corridor”, Yuschenko said at a final press-conference.
Besides, the presidents discussed prospects of alternative energy transportation routes. In particular, they discussed an option of crude pipeline Odessa-Brody that was especially laid by Ukraine in 2001 to transport crude oil from Central Asia to Ukraine and Europe.
But that time due to the lack of funds and low capacity rate of the pipeline the Ukrainian party had to abandon its further operation. Today the prospects of pipeline revival became more attractive to Kiev because Poland wants to participate in the project and insists on extension of the pipeline to Gdansk.
It is the commissioning of the pipeline that should become a key item on the agenda of the Kiev Energy Summit scheduled for May that may be attended by Kazakhstan.
In spite of the invitation to the project Astana did not express enthusiasm awaited by Kiev. Nazarbayev emphasized the need to find alternative routes but noted that Russian companies should take part in this project.
As quoted to him, “we should solve the problem of crude transportation through pipeline Odessa-Brody with the Russian crude transport authorities”. Besides, according to the Kazakh leader, his country currently conducts effective talks with Russia on increase of crude and gas volumes transported from Kazakhstan via the available pipelines. For example, the parties expect to increase the supplies of energy resources two-fold that should be also beneficial for the Ukrainian and European consumers.
Besides the cooperation in the gas sphere, the parties discussed other prospects of relationships between the two countries. In particular, they agree that the Year of Ukraine that started in Kazakhstan will let the residents of one of the largest Central Asian countries to know the culture and mentality of the Ukrainian people better.
The parties also touched a problem of Hi-Tech cooperation, and noted that Ukraine and Kazakhstan will cooperate in implementation of space-exploration programs. The Ukrainian President emphasized that in certain sectors of this cooperation Astana and Kiev will cooperate with Russia.
Besides, in spite of disagreements on certain problems the parties noted that they will continue their efforts towards closer integration taking into account the interests of their neighbors and first of all Russia.