Sunday 18 January 2009

Russia and Ukraine: Pacta sunt servanda?

Yesterday evening the Czech Presidency of the EU Council was still expressing its disappointment at the failure of Russia and Ukraine to reach a deal on the supply and transit of gas to EU member states:

The negotiations resumed later in the evening, and in the wee hours of Sunday morning the BBC reported: Gas to flow after deal in Moscow. The report is available here:

The BBC quotes the Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko saying that the Russian energy company Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart Naftohaz have been instructed to draw up the relevant contracts by Monday. After the documents on the transit and purchase of gas have been signed, the routes for gas transit and gas supplies to Europe will be restored.


Pacta sunt servanda?

In the best case, even if a deal has been reached, EU citizens still have to wait before the heating turns on.

In the worst case, this is just the latest ‘agreement’ between Russia and Ukraine to unravel before it is signed and long before it is put into practice. Neither the supply monopoly nor the transit monopoly has won any points on credibility, lately.


The supplier’s strong arm tactics and the evasions of an essentially bankrupt transit country have exposed the vulnerability of EU consumers to whims beyond the control of their individual governments and the existing powers of the European Union.

The Lisbon Treaty would enhance the powers of the European Union in the energy area to a degree, but first the treaty has to be ratified.

Are Lech Kaczynski, Vaclav Klaus and Mirek Topolanek listening? Do the Irish understand the interests at stake, for Europe and for themselves?

Ralf Grahn

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