September 10, 2012

Russia won’t fund EU political influence in Eastern Europe

The ongoing economic crisis in the eurozone has political roots, as the EU took on too many obligations with new members. Now Brussels wants Russia to share the burden, said President Vladimir Putin at the final APEC press conference in Vladivostok.
­Putin explained that modern Russia will not take on any additional obligations towards the economies of Eastern Europe.
He noted that “the very political system, the high level of social guarantees, the inability to ensure growing consumption – all this is a crippling burden that lies on the shoulders of the European economy.”
“The matter is that all those [Eastern European] countries were accepted to the EU and the Union committed to subsidize their economies,” Putin said.
The economic plight of the EU is the direct reason for the antitrust investigation initiated by the EU against Russian state corporation Gazprom, Putin observed.
The European Union is probing Gazprom over alleged unfair competition and price-fixing in the natural gas markets of Central and Eastern Europe. The EU claims Gazprom was hindering the free flow of gas across its member countries, preventing supply diversification and limiting customer choice of delivery points. Brussels also suspects Gazprom of imposing unfair prices on its customers by linking the price of gas to oil prices. The company does not admit any wrongdoing.
“It seems now that someone in the European Commission has decided that we (Russia) are going to share this subsidizing burden [of Eastern Europe]. That means the united Europe wants to keep political influence while we would be paying for this a little bit. This is a non-constructive approach,” Putin noted, also saying that given the crisis times a desire to shift part of the financial activities on somebody else is understandable, but counterproductive.
Putin recalled that in the times of the USSR and the ‘Eastern Bloc’ the Soviet Union was transiting hydrocarbons to its allies for a special price.
“In our times we have shifted to market relations with these countries and market formation of prices. Let’s stay on the ground of today realities,” the president urged.