Gas ‘Blackmail’ Pushes East Europe to Cooperate on Energy Ties

Central European countries must speed up energy infrastructure projects to boost the supply security, the presidents of six countries in the region said today as the bloc tries to confront Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Heads of state from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia urged increased cooperation in building gas interconnecting pipelines and other projects and complete a north-south corridor.

“Unfortunately, gas is being used to blackmail and divide countries in the European Union,” Slovak President Andrej Kiska said during a meeting with his counterparts in Prague. “We need to push ahead with infrastructure projects.”

Slovakia has been supplying gas to Ukraine since September via reverse flow, in which it provided a lifeline for the embattled country after Russia’s OAO Gazprom cut off supplies in June. The Slovaks have seen a 50 percent reduction in gas deliveries from Gazprom in recent weeks. Prime Minister Robert Fico said that the cut was a deliberate response to his country providing reverse flows to Ukraine.

Croatian Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak announced a plan today to link his country’s liquefied natural gas terminals with Poland’s by 2020 to cut their dependence on Russia.

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