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Lukashenka describes gas agreements with Russia as very advantageous
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Friday that the Belarusian-Russian gas agreements signed in Moscow on November 25 were very advantageous to Belarus.
Russia agreed to significantly lower the gas price for Belarus in exchange for the other 50-percent stake in gas pipeline company Beltranshaz, Mr. Lukashenka told reporters while staying in the Ivatsevichy district, Brest region.
Belarus received $2.5 billion for the stake and will save $2.5 billion to $3 billion every year because of the lower gas price, he said.
Within three years, the gas price for Belarus will be equal to the price for Russian customers, which will allow Belarusian companies to compete on equal terms with Russian businesses, Mr. Lukashenka said.
If Beltranshaz had not been sold to Gazprom, Belarus would pay for gas at the same rate as Germany, with the price reaching $400 to $420 per 1000 cubic meters next year, whereas now the price will be only $165, he said.
According to Mr. Lukashenka, he always told Gazprom that he was ready to sell the other 50-percent stake in Beltranshaz to it on the condition that the company's pipeline would not stand idle.
Beltranshaz means transit and tax revenues for Belarus and employment for its citizens, Mr. Lukashenka said.
He dismissed all criticism of the gas agreements with Russia. "What argument are they making?" he said. "That Lukashenka has allegedly lost a lever of pressure on Russia. They are insane. Is Lukashenka supposed to grab this pipe and start running around Russia, waving it and threatening Russia? Are these intelligent people? I don't intend to go to war against Russia. Let them try if they come [to power], I don't need a war against Russia. I want this country to be stable and develop quietly."
Belarus would not be experiencing financial problems if car imports had not jumped ahead of a rise in the rates of import duty on cars and if the gas price for Belarus in 2011 was $165, Mr. Lukashenka said. "Give us $5 billion a year for good measure, and there will be no problems. However, our economy and public didn't withstand such pressure. So, should I have prayed over that rusty pipe in the ground?" he said. "Why, they have built one Nord Stream pipe and will now build one more pipe. Russia is a super-rich country, it can give us this pipe as a present. But what will you pump through it? Natural gas is not even like oil. We can bring oil from Venezuela and somewhere else, but not gas."
Mr. Lukashenka said that no one would accuse him of surrendering state sovereignty if he had sold Beltranshaz to the European Union or the United States.
"Let them calm down and not cry foul, especially those who destroyed the country, the Soviet Union, where we got diesel fuel for two kopecks and gasoline cost nothing to us," he said. "If I had this now, Belarus would be an oasis." // BelaPAN