No economic reasons for Belarusian-Russian gas conflict, said President Lukashenko

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gave an interview to Euronews on June 24, 2010

There were absolutely no economic reasons for Belarusian-Russian gas conflict, said President Alexander Lukashenko on June 24th in an interview to Euronews in Minsk.

"This is an absolutely ungrounded dispute from the position of Russia. But the main thing is that the dispute arose when Gazprom owed us USD 260 million for transit (and transit is linked to the deliveries of gas to Belarus), whereas we owned them USD 190 million, even USD 187 million. They recognized it, and we paid them this USD 187 million," said Alexander Lukashenko.

"There were absolutely no reasons for the conflict," said the Head of State. The Belarusian side asked for a two-week deferment of payment on the debt, "but our ally, our closest people, told us, 'No, we are not going to wait another day'."

In today's interview to Euronews, Alexander Lukashenko gave a clear explanation of Belarus' position in the dispute with Russia. He said Gazprom's USD 260 million debt was accumulating since late 2009. The President mentioned the lopsided and biased coverage of the dispute in the Russian media who did not bother to mention Gazprom's outstanding debt to Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko shared his opinion about whether the gas conflict was Russia's way of putting pressure on Belarus, explained his vision of the future of the relations with Russia and the European Union and touched upon the topic of the forthcoming presidential elections in Belarus and whether he would run for presidency.

An abridged version of the interview will be broadcast on Euronews in the evening of June 25th, and the unabridged version will be aired in the evening of the same day on the First National TV Channel.


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