"We have to think about energy supply security in the future," said Austrian Economy Minister Martin Bartenstein. As current EU chair, Bartenstein was in Brussels yesterday for a meeting of the EU Gas Co-ordination Group, Euro-Reporters.com told.

"We have to learn the lessons. About a fourth of the European gas supplies come from Russia and about half of our imports come from there," added Bartenstein, who gave a joint press briefing with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The announcement that Gazprom and Naftogaz have reached agreement on the supply of gas by Russia, and its transit via the Ukraine, has not calmed spirits in Brussels or EU capitals. Officially, though, Brussels remained upbeat claiming its appeals to Ukraine and Russia to settle their dispute had a swift and positive response.

"Over almost 40 years, Russia has been a very reliable partner and we have reasons to believe that this will be the case in the future on the basis of the settlement reached between Russia and Ukraine," added Bartenstein. "But certainly the diversification in terms of pipeline systems is something to work on."

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, who is currently OSCE Chair-in-Office, also welcomed the agreement. "The signing of this agreement shows that the two countries are responsible partners, which is encouraging," said De Gucht.

"I'd like to repeat that a predictable, reliable and economically acceptable energy supply, based on a sound commercial and environmentally friendly base, is essential for the whole of Europe. In this respect, this agreement is more than welcome," added the Belgian Foreign Minister.


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