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Monday, October 22, 2007

Khristenko Faults EU's Energy Logic

October 22, 2007 - Reuters - BRUSSELS -- European Union plans to prevent investment in its energy sector by companies from countries that do not open up their own power markets could dent bilateral ties, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said Friday. "Will EU efforts to limit 'objectionable' investment have an effect on Russia-EU industrial and energy cooperation? It is difficult to predict," Khristenko wrote in a letter published in the Financial Times. "Russia stretches across more than one geographical region, and we can diversify our industrial and energy cooperation by turning to Asian and Pacific countries," he wrote. "But I am convinced the EU has been and will remain our key player." The European Commission proposed last month to break up big utilities that control power supply, generation and transmission, but added a clause to prevent foreign firms, such as Russia's Gazprom, from buying pipelines and grids. The draft legislation would bar foreign companies from controlling EU networks unless they play by the same rules as EU firms and their home country has an agreement with Brussels. In his letter to the newspaper, Khristenko said there should be a balance between investment opportunities and state security concerns, and he questioned the logic of the EU's plan. "I am not sure that Brussels is trying to prevent by restricting foreign access to the EU energy market," he said. "It would be strange to fear money or to rank it depending on the country of its origin."

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