WARSAW. MAY 10. INTERFAX C.N
TRAL EUROPE - Poland's efforts to launch energy cooperation with Black Sea and Caspian region nations are significant enough to worry Russia, with Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Central Asia to keep Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev from participating in a Polish energy summit, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told reporters Thursday.
"From the outset it was clear he wouldn't come," Kaczynski said. "Now you can see how important this conference is. If President Putin goes to Kazakhstan especially to stop President Nazarbayev, who will by the way take part in the conference over the phone, from attending with his own physical presence, then that shows how important are the actions we are taking."
Poland is hosting an energy summit with the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania and Ukraine on May 11-12. At the same time Nazarbayev is meeting his counterparts from Russia and Turkmenistan.
President Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister's twin brother, expects the upcoming summit in Krakow to launch energy cooperation between the participating nations. Poland hopes the summit will be a step towards the construction of a pipeline to pump crude oil from the Caspian region to Poland and on to Western Europe via Ukraine.
The project envisages the reversal of the flow of the Odessa-Brody pipeline, which would also be extended to the Polish city of Plock. The pipeline at present carries Russian crude southwards to the Black Sea port of Odessa.
The pipeline extension is a key part of the Polish government's agenda to diversify energy supplies. At present, Russia supplies more than 90% of Poland's hydrocarbon imports.
However, the project faces considerable hurdles as the government of Kazakhstan, which holds the biggest reserves in the Caspian region, is insisting on Russia's participation in the project. The Polish government says the project could go ahead even if only Azerbaijan agrees to supply the crude.