By Burc Eruygur
ISTANBUL (AA) – Uzbekistan prioritizes its national interests and will never agree to political conditions in exchange for gas, the country’s energy minister said.
“We will never jeopardize our national interests,” Jorabek Mirzamahmudov said on possible gas trade with Russia in an interview published by Uzbek news website Kun on Thursday.
Any agreement for gas imports will only be “through commercial sales contracts” and Uzbekistan “will not allow any political conditions to be imposed in return,” he asserted.
He said Uzbekistan will take “other measures” if it cannot buy gas from other countries at a “reasonable” price.
“Understand one thing: We have gas problems only in the winter. The rest of the time, we are able to fully cover our needs,” said Mirzamahmudov.
He said Uzbekistan is ready to take all necessary steps to address its energy needs, including additional investments and exploring alternative energy sources.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mirzamahmudov rejected a Russian proposal for a “gas union” with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The idea of a “trilateral gas union” was floated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a meeting in Moscow late last month.
“We are negotiating the import of natural gas and electricity from neighboring countries, and not through an alliance or union,” Mirzamahmudov said in a video statement released by the Uzbek Energy Ministry.
“Based on national interests, negotiations are underway on cooperation on the basis of commercial contracts, and not through the transfer of energy networks.”