EU urges Russia, Ukraine to return to negotiating table (Lead)

January 1st, 2009 - 10:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Prague, Jan 1 (DPA) The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU) and its Czech presidency Thursday urged both Russia and Ukraine to return to the negotiating table and reach a deal so that “gas supplies to the EU are not affected”.”All existing commitments to supply and transit must be honoured,” Czech Vice-Premier for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said in a joint statement with the Commission.

Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom said Thursday it had fully cut gas to Ukrainian consumers in a move that followed a collapse in talks between the two countries on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

The EU, whose members are largely dependent on Russian gas supplies, said it will closely monitor the situation at bloc’s border.

“The EU trusts that we can count upon assurances given that gas supplies to the EU will be unaffected, as a demonstration of the reliability of its gas suppliers,” European Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs said in the statement.

The EU, however, responded cautiously to Ukraine’s call for getting involved in brokering the bilateral gas row.

“The Presidency and the Commission are in contact with both sides,” the statement said.

On Thursday, Czech Republic assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-member blocking from France.

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