Turkmenistan Accuses Ukraine In Gas Debts

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmenistan on Sunday accused Ukraine of taking an "unconstructive approach" during talks over Ukraine's multimillion-dollar debts for natural gas supplies.

Turkmenistan gas depot

The Foreign Ministry said that during the Feb. 17-18 negotiations with Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov and the head of the state-run company Naftogaz Ukraine, Alexei Ivchenko, Ukraine had "an unconstructive approach and did not take the necessary measures for deciding the question of full payment for Turkmen natural gas supplies."

According to Turkmenistan, Ukraine owes US$159.9 million, nearly 90 percent of which comes from last year.

"Even during the course of the last negotiations, the delegation from Naftogaz Ukraine expressed no particular wish to constructively examine the questions of Turkmen natural gas supplies," the ministry said in a statement. "Instead, there were attempts to complicate the calculation of the debts."

"Such an unconstructive position by Naftogaz Ukraine complicates the conduct of negotiations from the perspective of cooperation between Ukraine and Turkmenistan in the gas sphere in 2007 and following years," the ministry said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko later called his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niyazov.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on the talks.

Turkmenistan is the second-biggest gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia, and its vast gas resources are playing an increasingly important role in the geopolitics of the region.

Source: AP