Thursday, July 23, 2009

Romania, Turkmenistan agree to cooperate on energy

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- The presidents of Romania and Turkmenistan signed a declaration Wednesday calling for cooperation in the energy industry, as both nations seek to decrease reliance on Russia.Romanian President Traian Basescu said the declaration would "open a new path for energy cooperation.

Romania and other European Union nations are seeking to ease their dependence on Russia for natural gas supplies, an effort that grew more urgent after Russia in January cut off supplies delivered through Ukraine over a price dispute.

Turkmenistan, the former Soviet Union's second-biggest gas producer, is trying to loosen Russia's grip on export routes.Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov said Europe is a "foreign policy priority" for his desert nation on the Caspian Sea. The country has slowly been emerging from the isolation imposed by longtime autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006.

Basescu praised the Turkmen leader's recent expression of readiness to supply gas for the planned, EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, which would carry gas from the Caspian region to Europe via Turkey, bypassing Russia.

Romania, Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary signed an agreement last week to allow the Nabucco pipeline to cross their countries.

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