If Russia turns off the taps for the Czechia as well, the government is able to provide enough gas for companies and households in the short term. In the long run, however, it will be necessary to rely on alternative suppliers as well as European solidarity. Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the press today in the Chamber of Deputies.
How do you perceive the closure of gas taps to Poland and Bulgaria by Russia?
It is unacceptable behavior, breach of contract and punishment of countries. It is something that only shows that Russia is a completely unreliable energy supplier. That is why the Czech Republic and the EU are on the right path. So getting rid of dependence on Russian fossil raw materials.
Will the Russian move speed up these efforts?
Of course, we are taking those steps, unfortunately we came as a new government at a time when the energy security of the Czech Republic was not ensured by the previous government, they were even interested in letting Rosatom enter the tender for Dukovany. In a few weeks, we will prepare a plan for how the Czech Republic should proceed.
Is the Polish scenario also threatening the Czech Republic?
We have no information at the moment that there is such a threat and there are not even any signals. But we have to reckon with that. We are taking steps to ensure sufficient gas, I will not talk about the details, because that is not even possible at the moment. The problem is that the Czech Republic is one of the countries dependent on Russian gas, we have over 90 percent of gas from Russia, it is not easy for us.
What would be your steps if this happened to the Czech Republic?
Although it is not easy, we are ready. We would be able to do this for some time, then, of course, it would be necessary for the EU and other countries to help us, and we will deal with it together. If Russia stopped supplying to the Czech Republic, it would probably stop supplying to other countries as well. If they close the taps now, we will be able to deal with it immediately with a combination of stocks and other suppliers. In the long run, however, we must look for other solutions – liquefied gas, terminals, alternative gas sources. If Babiš’s government acted more responsibly, it would be a minor problem.
What does the common European approach look like?
We agreed at the last European Council that by 2027, Europe will get rid of its dependence on Russian fossil resources. This means taking steps throughout Europe to get rid of addiction. There are several ways. These are other suppliers of gas to the EU, strengthening terminals and facilities to supply liquefied gas. Which is a very real way. The US has promised to increase liquefied gas supplies to Europe this year and next. These are things that need to be worked on.
It is beneficial for a common EU approach that when we supply gas together, we achieve lower prices and better supply guarantees than if we did it alone.
What can the Czech Republic do?
What is a big task for the Czech Republic is how to get the gas here, how to have sufficient capacity in terminals and also gas pipelines. This has been neglected in the past, the Stork project has not been used in the past and we must rectify it as soon as possible.
We are a country that has no ports, we do not have liquefied gas terminals directly and we are at the end of that pipeline, even though we are in the middle of Europe. It’s a bit of a paradox, but the countries that are in this geographical area are actually at the end of supply in terms of gas. That is why we must work here to confirm the solidarity of European countries in the event of a reduction in supply – that gas would also be supplied to us. We are working on this and we have pushed it to the end of the European Council.
Former Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček criticizes your government for not starting to build up sufficient gas reserves in March…
Mr Havlíček should first and foremost question his conscience and answer to the Czech people for what his government has not done. It was he who wanted to get Rosatom to Dukovany. Why didn’t they deal with someone, buy gas? I would expect members of the former government of Andrej Babiš to support us in this and be politely silent when they caused this situation.