SLOVAK Economy Minister Pavol Pavlis visited Ukraine on August 19 and held talks with his counterpart Yuriy Prodan in Kiev.

Pavlis learnt that Ukraine’s new so-called “sanctions law” won’t be used to the detriment of Slovakia, with gas flows from Russia to be provided by Ukraine as they have been until now. “This is an important piece of news for us, one that we want to take back home,” Pavlis said in Kiev, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

As stipulated in a recent agreement, Slovakia has modernised the Vojany-Uzhgorod gas pipeline and is thus able to provide a reverse flow from western Europe to Ukraine. Kiev has been at variance with Russia on gas prices and on paying off its debt to Moscow for months, and supplies have even been cut in the past. However, Ukraine still transits gas supplies to European customers, including Slovakia. As a result of the law approved in Ukraine last week, restrictions may in the future apply to the transit of Russian goods across Ukraine.

“Slovakia is a country that has provided Ukraine with options for gas supplies very promptly under the reverse flow,” Pavlis said. “We now expect reciprocity in solidarity in that Slovakia will continue to receive gas from Russia. I have to take the minister’s [Prodan’s] word for it that the law won’t be used against Slovakia.”

Prodan voiced his appreciation for Slovakia’s provision of the reverse flow and gave assurances that Ukraine will do its best not to jeopardise gas supplies. The approved law is only a framework piece of legislation that makes no explicit mention of gas or oil, said Prodan, with the decision on sanctions in the hands of the country’s national security council.

Prodan added that gas supplies to Europe are fully in the hands of Russia’s Gazprom now, with Ukraine having no influence on Gazprom’s moves.
Slovakia has sealed a long-term contract with Gazprom on gas supplies until 2029, said Pavlis, voicing Slovakia’s commitment to keeping to the contract.

While gas supplies from Russia through Ukraine have been the subject of disputes for a long time, similar problems with oil are not expected. The issue of oil was only a marginal topic in the talks.

If Slovak companies were to acquire ownership shares in Ukrainian companies operating gas pipelines, that would be their own private initiative, Pavlis further said. “The [Slovak] state certainly won’t become engaged in it. This is up to private companies,” he said. Privatisation was among the issues discussed by Pavlis and Prodan. “I’ve given the minister [Prodan] the chance to learn a lesson from our negative experience with privatisations,” said Pavlis.

After the talks, Pavlis laid wreaths at a memorial to the victims of the recent protests on Kiev’s Independence Square. Both officials are set to meet again in Vojany, Slovakia, on September 2, when the reverse-flow pipeline is scheduled to begin running at full capacity.

(Source: TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.