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Austria Summoning European Commission Envoy over Slow Pace of Weaning Off Russian Gas: Blood Money Controversy

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Austria Criticized for Slow Progress in Reducing Dependence on Russian Gas

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Introduction

Austria recently faced criticism from a European Commission envoy for its slow efforts in decreasing its reliance on Russian gas. The envoy, Martin Sellmeyer, expressed surprise at the lack of protests over Austria’s gas payments, which he referred to as “blood money” used to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This article explores the response from both the European Commission and the Austrian government.

The European Commission’s Response

The European Commission issued a statement distancing itself from Sellmeyer’s remarks, calling them unfortunate and inappropriate. They requested Sellmeyer to report the incident to Brussels immediately. The Commission expressed its disapproval of his comments.

Austria’s Dependence on Russian Gas

According to the latest data from the Austrian government, around 60% of the country’s natural gas imports in June were from Russia. This signifies a decrease from approximately 80% before the war but remains significantly higher than the lowest monthly figure of 21% in September last year.

Austria’s Response

The Austrian Ministry of State has summoned Martin Sellmeyer, who is currently abroad, for a meeting with the Secretary General upon his return. Austria’s coalition government, consisting of conservatives and left-wing Greens, acknowledges the need to reduce dependence on Russian gas. However, the country faces obstacles due to its landlocked position.

Alternative Options for Austria

Neighboring countries like Germany are increasing their capacity to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from other regions through their ports. Austria may consider exploring similar alternatives to diversify its gas supply and reduce reliance on Russian imports.

Conclusion

Austria’s slow progress in reducing its dependence on Russian gas has drawn criticism from the European Commission envoy, Martin Sellmeyer. The country is taking steps to address this issue, but challenges remain. It is crucial for Austria to work closely with other countries and explore alternative gas supply options to overcome these challenges.

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