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Beltransgaz sale ‘very profitable deal’ for Belarusian nation

MINSK, 23 December (BelTA) – The pipeline operator Beltransgaz was sold for the benefit of the Belarusian people. It was a very profitable deal, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told the press conference held on 23 December.

“Don’t criticize me. I did it for the people. It is a normal and very profitable deal for our state,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

According to the President, incorporation into Russia is not an option. “I would like to tell those, who say we are losing independence and sovereignty and so on: we sold it to the wrong people. If I had sold it to their patrons, they would have been completely silent. Why Russia? Why not Europe, America and so on? It is the stumbling block,” believes Alexander Lukashenko.

Alexander Lukashenko said that his decision had been guided by economic and financial profits. “We got a total of $5 billion for Beltransgaz. $5 billion for the Beltransgaz pipeline instead of the transit pipeline Yamal-Europe (it is a Russian one, they built it),” said the head of state. In his words, via this pipe Belarus received natural gas from Russia and supplied small amounts of it to Ukraine, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast and Poland. An average of about 11 billion cubic meters per annum against 33 billion cubic meters via the Yamal-Europe pipeline. “Forget about Ukraine, it doesn’t need our services and can stop using them. We supplied natural gas to Poland and Lithuania in small amounts. Russia has built the first pipeline at the bottom of the Baltic Sea to reach Germany. I think they will implement plans to build a second pipeline. What’s after that?” wondered the President.

“What did we lose? We kept the company alive, earning pennies. By the way, transit fees were 3-5 times lower than those in Western countries. We couldn’t force Russia to pay more because you know they would force us to pay for natural gas more,” reminded Alexander Lukashenko.

Alexander Lukashenko believes that it is inappropriate to say that Belarus lost leverage against Russia by selling Beltransgaz. “Only idiots can talk about some leverage against Russia. Russia has sufficient leverage to influence us. Only an idiot can think in military terms to resolve economic issues. Are you going to wage war on Russia? Are you going to take this pipe and swing it at Moscow, the Kremlin, at Russia?”

“People work there, the gas pipeline will be modernized, the number of jobs will rise. What’s bad about it?” said Alexander Lukashenko. “We still have the pipe. They will pay even more taxes. We have received guarantees that transit via the system will increase and we will get more transit earnings”.

“Moreover, thanks to the deal we’ve got more than $2 billion in economic effect every year,” reminded Alexander Lukashenko. He said that today’s price for the natural gas Belarus gets is $165 for 1,000 cubic meters. Without the deal it would have been $370-380 per 1,000 cubic meters at the end of 2012. “Are we ready to pay about $400 per 1,000 cubic meters? The year 2011 showed that $300 could drown us,” said the head of state.

The President also said that the deal had been tied with other arrangements with the Russian Federation. In particular, it was tied with the Russian loan for building the nuclear power plant and oil prices for 2012. According to the head of state, oil delivery terms will be even better than in 2011. “We may not have had such oil delivery terms in the last five years”. “You can think for yourself why Russia did that,” suggested Alexander Lukashenko.