Interview with Sergey Komlev
RT: The Belarusian delegation is on its way to Moscow. Can we expect the dispute to be resolved?
Sergey Komlev: It is hard to say whether it will be resolved in the next couple of days or maybe a week. But anyway this problem will be settled one day because the stakes are really high. On the one hand, Belarus is 100% dependent on Russian gas while, on the other hand, Russia does not want to give grounds for criticism that it's not a reliable supplier.
RT: What's behind Belarus not paying its bills on time?
S.K.: You'd better address that question to the President of Belarus, I believe. This year the gas price for Belarus was more than doubled and therefore we might think it was a kind of shock for the industry. President Lukashenko is also aware that if the prices keep rising, it will certainly undermine the living conditions of the Belarus' people.
RT: Does Belarus consider itself a special case and is it looking for preferential treatment? Does it amount to blackmail?
S.K.: It's true that actually Belarus is getting preferential treatment. It does pay the lowest price for gas among the other CIS nations.
RT: Russia has proved that it's a reliable energy supplier. This is the second dispute with Belarus this year. How can both sides guarantee this situation will not happen in the future?
S.K.:In my opinion, there can be no reassurances that conflicts like this will not occur in the future – while prices continue to increase towards the price of the world market. And once they reach it, there will be no grounds for disputes.
RT: Some critics say the Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is not going to come out of this row well. How do you see this is affecting his stand in the dispute?
S.K.: We know that Lukashenko is a populist. So it's no surprise he is making statements that can be considered populist – like getting support from Venezuela's President Chavez.