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kommersant: Merkel Threatens Progress of Russian Business

Jan. 04, 2007

Europe may block the expansion of Russian business if Moscow creates obstacles for European investors, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Germany became the chair of the European Union on January 1.

Merkel told the AP that she thinks Russia has a legal right to more access to western European markets, but that access should be based on the principle of mutuality. If the Russians creates obstacles to European investment, they shouldn’t object to responsive measures, she added.

It is assumed that her interview is a response to Russian authorities’ decision not to allow foreign companies to participate in the development of the Stockman deposit and the acquisition by Gazprom of a controlling package in Sakhalin 2.

At the end of December, Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov stated that the gas holding was not excluding foreign companies from the development of the Stockman deposit, but there would be exchange of assets, rather foreign companies would work on a contract basis or the establishment of joint ventures. Kupriyanov mentioned Achimgaz as a successful example of a joint project. It was established in July 2003 by Gazprom and the German Wintershall AG (BASF).

Gazprom’s recent acquisition of a controlling package in Sakhalin 2 also aroused alarm in the West. European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso particularly expressed his concern over it.

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