Interfax, Moscow, Russia,
Saturday, December 17, 2005

MOSCOW – A switch by Russia to selling energy resources, such as
natural gas, to CIS countries at prices close to those prevailing on the
world market will be healthy not only for Russia’s economy but also
for political relations with neighbors, said Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Grigory Karasin.

“In my view, a transition to world prices for energy resources, despite
emotional problems, will make not only economic but also political
relations with our partners and neighbors healthier quite quickly,” Karasin
said in an interview published in the Saturday issue of the Trud newspaper.

“A systematic and logical approach in such issues is much more helpful
than privileges and some special treatment,” Karasin said. “They engender
a lot of illusions and sooner or later lead to soured relations. Take a
simple example: lend a large sum of money to a friend. As a rule, the
expectation of repayment does not improve relations between friends,”
he said.

Karasin said he does not find it reasonable to counterbalance the
integration of former Soviet states with their interaction with various
Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO.

“I believe this territory still remains unified in cultural and historic
terms, and most of the people living in this area are still interested in
its strengthening,” Karasin said, adding that NATO membership is “a
matter of the choice of each individual state.” -30-

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