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IF THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE WORSENSTampiza: "Lukoil will be forced to sell its assets in Romania as well"

EMILIA OLESCU (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section /

Tampiza: "Lukoil will be forced to sell its assets in Romania as well"

"I think that the decision of Lukoil to sell gas stations in Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia is related to the political conflict"

"Russia can not blackmail Romania"

Lukoil may be forced to sell its Romanian assets, if the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine escalates, says Constantin Tampiza, former CEO of Lukoil România.

This statement comes as Lukoil, the second largest maker of oil products in Russia, announced a few days ago that it has reached an agreement with Hungarian company MOL, to sell the 44 gas stations it owns in the Czech Republic, and further said that it also intends to sell an additional 75 gas stations in Hungary and 19 of Slovakia, to Norm Benzinkut Kft.

Even though Lukoil announced that the decision is part of the strategy for the optimization of business, Constantin Tampiza considers that these moves are taking place following the conflict of Ukraine.

Constantin Tampiza told us: "Any company that has exposure in a country where there are risks, should optimize its business. I think that the companies in the European countries that have implemented sanctions against Russia run certain risks, because the EU has adopted a certain policy against Russia. In these countries, the Russian investments are losing value and the companies must submit a solution to the parent company. I think that Lukoil's decision to sell the gas stations in its three countries has more to do with what is happening in politics, than it does with business optimization. If this conflict escalates, I think that the same thing will happen in other EU countries as well, including Moldova and Romania, specifically Lukoil will be forced to sell its assets. Its stock will drop and the management of the company will be forced to take the corresponding measures".

The management of Lukoil, a group which operates oil refineries in Romania and Bulgaria, said last week that the western sanctions against Russia, will force the company to scale down its investment program due to the limited access to fund. CEO Vagit Alekperov said that Lukoil could sell some of its assets in Eastern Europe to focus on its Russian projects.

"The sanctions are levied against the country, but we are a Russian company. This will affect us just like any others", he said.

Over the last few years, Lukoil has invested heavily abroad.

Starting on August 1st, the sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia as a result of the situation in Ukraine came into effect. These sanctions concern the banking and energy sectors and weapons exports.

Băsescu does not believe in the "threat" of Russia cutting off Romania's natural gas supply this winter

Constantin Tampiza considers that Russia can not blackmail Romania, because our country is among the least dependent on the Russian Federation when it comes to energy, and the exchanges between the two countries are rather small.

However, according to president Traian Băsescu, Romania is seen as a potential target for Russia. On Tuesday night, the president stated, in a TV show, that he is expecting the consolidation of the Eastern flank at the NATO summit.

According to the head of state, the consolidation of the Eastern flank "can mean many things", but "the most important thing would be the placement of logistics, ammunition and weapons warehouses, because the troops would come in right away".

Băsescu thinks that this consolidation could also bring in "some revenues".

Traian Băsescu said he was "pleased" with the third wave of sanctions applied to Russia, because that means that it is being prevented from accessing the equity markets for its financing as are the Russian banks, and its defense and energy sectors are starting to have problems. The Romanian president said that he doesn't believe in the "threat" of Russia cutting off Romania's natural gas supply this winter, because the Russians would lose "greatly".

UK prime-minister David Cameron recently said that the European Union and the United States of America have to take firm stance against Russia amid the crisis in Ukraine, because otherwise, in the future, Moscow could destabilize EU states such as Romania.

Tampiza: "Moldova will come to realize that the democratic system is better than the former Soviet one"

Following the conflict between the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation, Moldova could make steps towards the EU accession and could attract new European funding, says Constantin Tampiza.

"Moldova will come to realize that the democratic system is much better than the former Soviet system", he said, and he said that that the sanctions applied by the Russians against the Moldovans will first of all have a negative impact on fruit and vegetable farmers.

"In Moldova, where parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place, the Russians will take all kinds of measures to influence the elections and to support the pro-Russian political parties, by acting against the pro-European parties. The Russians are introducing various measures to diminish the political perception of the leaders of the country, which are pro-Europeans", the former CEO of Lukoil Romania told us.

In his opinion, the elections will be won by the parties that are currently in power, namely the Democratic Party, the Liberal Party of Moldova and the Liberal Reformatory Party.

On June 27th, the Republic of Moldova signed the agreement of association with the European Union and the Free Trade Agreement, which at the time, were criticized by Russia, which warned that it would take "protection measures" if those agreements were to affect the Russian economy.

Russia recently prohibited the imports of fruits and vegetables from the Republic of Moldova, after it decided to impose an embargo on fruit from the Republic of Moldova, due a "dangerous insect", having also refused to buy wine and processed meat from Moldova.

The authorities in Kishinev consider that the decision of the Russians to impose these embargos is the result of geopolitical interests.

The restrictions which the Russian Federation has imposed on the imports from the Republic of Moldova would bring poverty among the Moldovans, as Russia has mercilessly cut off all the channels which would have allowed them to prosper, some analysts think, who consider that the stake of these restrictions is very high, given this autumn's parliamentary elections.

In an interview he gave BURSA this summer, Doru Lionăchescu, the president of Capital Partners, said: "I don't have a very optimistic opinion when it comes to the elections of the Republic of Moldova, because once the citizens run out of food, they will vote for the communists. Without exports, the Moldovans are finished. The stake is very high, because the Moldovans are put in a situation where they have to choose between Europe and Russia. If they vote for the communists, it will not be possible to sign the treaty for joining the EU".

Prime-minister Victor Ponta recently said that Romania will support the Republic of Moldova against the economic sanctions that Russia has imposed on it, mentioning among other things the raising of the export quotas of Moldovan agri-food products to the European market.

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