19 Jun 2010 15:24

Shmatko: Russia, Belarus to resolve gas debt issue soon

ST. PETERSBURG. June 19 (Interfax) - Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko is confident Belarus will resolve the gas debt issue in the very near future.

Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tovpenets had said on Friday that "the issue of reducing gas supplies to Belarus might be linked to the transit question: what kind of image of Gazprom will that make for the Western partners?"

Commenting on that statement, Shmatko said: "I cannot believe that is a responsible statement from a responsible person. I continue to find that our companies will resolve that issue in the very near future."

"We have proceeded down a fairly long path in the context of providing uninterrupted transit of energy resources to Europe. We will of course analyze everything that was said," Shmatko said.

Russia and Europe have an early warning system in place for situations when the risk of a supply cutoff arises, he recalled.