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译文参考:兄弟阋墙-俄罗斯能源奇货可居

  Russia and Belarus

  俄罗斯与白俄罗斯

  Loveless brothers

  兄弟阋墙

  Another Russian gas conflict was averted, but a short oil war broke out instead. Europe should take heed

  又是俄罗斯——天然气之争才告平息,一场短暂的石油之战又打了起来,欧洲需提防

  RUSSIA and Belarus, its ex-Soviet neighbour, are supposedly brotherly Slavic nations that are in the process of forming a union state. There are indeed some striking family resemblances. Both have irascible[1] authoritarian presidents—Russia's Vladimir Putin and Belarus's brutal Alyaksandr Lukashenka—and both are inclined to risky diplomatic brinkmanship. (1)This week that similarity propelled them over the brink and into an unfraternal[2] trade dispute. Brief though it may have been, it had important implications for Russia's energy dealings with Europe, and perhaps also for the future of benighted[3] Belarus.

  俄罗斯与其前苏联邻邦白俄罗斯都属于斯拉夫民族,而且正筹备建立一个联盟国家。

人们都认为它们亲如兄弟,而事实上两国之间的确有着惊人的相似之处。它们的总统(即俄罗斯的弗拉基米尔•普金和白俄罗斯的暴君亚历山大•卢卡申科)都是性情暴躁的独裁主义者,两国在外交上也都奉行冒险的边缘政策[1]。本周,正是这些相似之处让两国都撕破脸皮,围绕贸易问题较起劲来,兄弟之情也被抛置脑后。对于俄罗斯与欧洲之间的能源贸易而言,这场“较劲”虽没能持续多久,却有着重要含义,对蒙昧的白俄罗斯的未来而言也许亦是如此。

  A year ago, wrangling over the price of gas sold by Russia to Ukraine briefly diminished the flow of gas through Ukraine to Europe. At the end of 2006, Belarusian resistance to Russia's demand that it too pay more for gas threatened to unleash another so-called “gas war”. (2)The modest economic growth that Mr Lukashenka terms the “Belarus economic miracle”—which along with his total control of the media and harassment of opponents has shored up[4] his regime—has in fact been largely based on massively discounted Russian gas imports.

  一年前,围绕俄罗斯销往乌克兰的天然气价格之争使得途经乌克兰输送至欧洲的天然气量锐减。2006年底,俄罗斯提出要对销往白俄罗斯的天然气进行涨价,白俄罗斯人对此进行了抵制,新一轮所谓的“天然气之战”一触即发。一直以来,白俄罗斯有条不紊的经济增长事实上大部分都依赖于俄罗斯天然气价格的高度优惠政策。卢卡申科的政权之所以不断巩固,就是因为这个被他称作“白俄罗斯经济奇迹”的经济增长,以及他对媒体的完全掌控和对政敌的钳制。

  In the event, the two countries cantankerously[5] reached a deal on an increased gas price just before their New Year's Eve deadline. But a few days later, an oil war broke out instead: Russia imposed new duties on the crude oil it exports to Belarus (refining and re-exporting it have been a crucial money-spinner for Mr Lukashenka, in effect another big Russian subsidy to the Belarusian economy). In revenge, Belarus demanded a transit fee on the oil that crosses Belarus to other European customers. The Russians refused—and Belarus began siphoning[6] off oil in lieu of payment. On the night of January 7th Russia stopped pumping oil into a pipeline network that crosses Belarus and delivers 12.5% of the European Union's oil needs. Supplies to Poland, Germany and others stopped flowing.

  结果是,新年之前的最后一天,两国一边还闹得不可开交,一边却就天然气涨价达成了一致。可是没过几天,一场石油战又爆发了:俄罗斯对出口到白俄罗斯的原油征收新的关税(对这些原油进行提炼并重新出口一直都是卢卡申科一个至关重要的创收途径,实际上也就相当于俄罗斯为白俄罗斯经济提供的另类丰厚补助),而白俄罗斯则要求对过境输往欧洲其他国家的俄罗斯石油收取过境费,以示报复。俄罗斯人不同意,而白俄罗斯则开始截留过境的俄罗斯石油,并且分文不付。1月7日晚,俄罗斯切断了一个过境白俄罗斯的石油管网(通过该管网输往欧盟的石油占欧盟石油需求量的12.5%),波兰、德国和其他国家也随之“断油”了。

  The two countries' tactics may be similar, but their muscle is not. Mr Putin talked of cutting oil production and rerouting supplies. The Russians also threatened duties on all Belarusian goods, many of which would struggle to find markets elsewhere. (3)On January 10th, after the presidents talked on the telephone, Mr Lukashenka blinked; the transit fee was lifted; and oil began to flow again before Europe was seriously affected. Nevertheless, the short but nasty spat has telling lessons.

  两国的策略虽如出一辙,但它们的力量却不可相提并论。普金提出要缩减石油产量和改变石油供应渠道;俄罗斯人还威胁要对所有白俄罗斯的商品征收关税,这很可能会断了许多白俄罗斯商品的销路。1月10日,两国总统通过电话会谈后,卢卡申科动摇了,过境费取消了,石油又开始输送了,欧洲受到的影响还不算严重。不管怎么样,这场“小打小闹”还是有不少值得吸取的教训。

  One is that, with the Russians in this mood, Mr Lukashenka's grip on Belarus may be in jeopardy. While others reviled him, Mr Putin stood by Mr Lukashenka during his rigged re-election last year. (4)But Mr Putin's motive was more aversion to European meddling in Russia's “near abroad”, and to the so-called “colour revolutions” of the kind that overtook Ukraine in 2004, than affection for Mr Lukashenka. Personal relations between the two men are said to be rancid[7]; a proper union between their two countries, a plan Mr Putin inherited from his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, now looks fanciful. (Mr Lukashenka is said to have cooled on the idea after it became clear that he was unlikely to remain president after the merger.) In the absence of a reliable alternative, defenestrating Mr Lukashenka may not be part of Mr Putin's plan. But the new gas price alone could seriously damage Belarus's mostly state-owned factories and collective farms, and alienate ordinary Belarusians.

  一个教训就是,把俄罗斯人“惹毛”了,卢卡申科对白俄罗斯的控制权可能会岌岌可危。去年进行的二度选举,众叛亲离的卢卡申科得到了普金的支持,并通过幕后操纵获胜。但是,普金这么做与其说是因为他对卢卡申科有好感,还不如说是因为他反感欧洲人搀和俄罗斯“家门口的事”以及所谓的“颜色革命”(比如2004年那场席卷了乌克兰的革命)。据说,两人的私交很差;普金的前任叶利钦计划建立一个两国联盟,普金上任后计划虽未改变,但要构建一个合乎双方利益的联盟现在看来却是异想天开的事情。(据说,卢卡申科已逐渐对这个计划丧失了兴趣,因为他意识到两国一旦联盟他不可能继续当他的总统了。)在找到其它可行的办法之前,普金也许并不打算丢下卢卡申科不管。不过,光上涨后的天然气价格就会让白俄罗斯大部分国有工厂和集体农场遭受严重打击,让卢卡申科失去白俄罗斯民众的拥护。

  The affair also confirms the increasingly poisonous nature of Russia's dealings with many of its former vassals[8]. Energy feuds are both a cause and a symptom of this trend. Georgia, Mr Putin's least favourite ex-Soviet neighbour, has been forced to accept a price for Russian gas that is more than twice the new one for Belarus. But supplies from neighbouring Azerbaijan are helping Georgia through the winter, and they may soon, says Nika Gilauri, Georgia's energy minister, replace Russian imports altogether. With its own oil and gas deposits in the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan itself recently rejected what Hafiz Pashayev, the deputy foreign minister, describes as the “unreasonable” gas terms offered by Russia, and stopped importing Russian gas. It has also ceased sending its oil through Russian pipelines.

  这一事件也证明,俄罗斯与前苏联各“诸侯国”之间交易的本质越来越恶劣,表现为能源纷争不断,而后者又让这种恶劣本质变本加厉。普金最不看重的格鲁吉亚已被迫接受了俄罗斯天然气的价格,这个价格要比给白俄罗斯的最新价格高出2倍多。不过,来自邻邦阿塞拜疆的天然气正帮助格鲁吉亚度过这个冬天,而且格鲁吉亚能源部长尼卡•吉劳里称,阿塞拜疆很快就会完全取代俄罗斯成为格鲁吉亚天然气进口国。阿塞拜疆由于在里海拥有自己的石油和天然气矿层,所以它也拒绝了俄罗斯提出的天然气条款,并停止从俄罗斯进口天然气。阿副外长哈菲兹•帕沙耶夫认为那都是些“不合理”的条款。同时,阿也不再过境俄罗斯天然气管线输送天然气。

  The most important lesson for Europe, however, is once again that over-reliance on Russian energy is dangerous. In principle, the Kremlin's drive to charge its neighbours more for gas is reasonable. Overall demand for Russian gas is outstripping supply; suppressing demand in the ex-Soviet states should make more gas available for export to the more lucrative European market. In the particular case of Belarus, the Russians deserve some sympathy. (5)Until last year they were criticised for coddling Mr Lukashenka with preferential gas terms—and Belarus's re-export of duty-free Russian oil was, as one foreign observer in Minsk puts it, an obvious “scam[9]”.

  然而对于欧洲而言,最重要的教训莫过于:过分依赖俄罗斯能源是危险的,而且这样的教训已经不是第一次了。照理说,克里姆林宫想要对卖给邻国的天然气涨价并不过分。它们的天然气已经越来越供不应求,限制前苏联国家的天然气需求能腾出更多的天然气用于出口到利润更为可观的欧洲市场。仅就与白俄罗斯之间的争执来看,俄罗斯人是值得同情的。去年以前,人们一直批评俄罗斯人在天然气问题上明显关照卢卡申科,让他享受了不少特惠政策——而且,正如明斯克一位外国观察家指出,白俄罗斯转手输出俄罗斯的免税石油(对俄罗斯而言)是一种明显的“欺诈行为”。

  (6)But however reasonable its aims, Russia's bullying and capricious methods, plus its volatile relationship with energy transit countries and carelessness over the impact on European consumers, have rightly alarmed European leaders. Though Mr Putin pledged to “do everything to secure the interests of Western consumers,” Germany's Angela Merkel spoke of damaged confidence. The Europeans should also note that Russia has emerged from its tussle with Belarus with a 50% stake in Belarus's gas pipeline (payment for which will partly offset the gas-price hike), strengthening the Kremlin's grip on Europe's energy infrastructure. An EU energy strategy released this week talked about the need for diversifying suppliers and dealing with them collectively: the quicker, the better.

  话说回来,不管俄罗斯的意图是否合理,它恃强凌弱和出尔反尔的表现,以及同能源输送过境国之间动荡不定的关系和对欧洲能源消费国所受影响的不在乎,已经很自然地引起了欧洲各国领导人的警惕。普金信誓旦旦地说要“尽力保护西方石油消费国的利益”,可德国总理安吉拉•默克尔表示他们的信心已经受到了打击。欧洲人还应当看到,俄白“斗气”最终让俄罗斯获得了白俄罗斯天然气管线50%的股份(购股费用将部分抵消天然气价格上涨后所增加的支出),克里姆林宫对欧洲能源基础设施的控制也得以进一步强化。欧盟本周公布的一项能源战略指出,有必要寻求能源供应来源多元化,并共同与供应来源国进行交易——越快越好。

  [1]所谓边缘政策,即一种在谈判中以破裂相威胁以达到施压力于对方,迫使对方让步的策略。其特征是凶、狠、份量重,系孤注一掷,成败在此一举,常运用在“最后立场”的条件上。故边缘政策可以作为谈判终局的标志。

  [NOTES](OXFORD)

  1. irascible adj. (fml 文) (of a person) easily made angry (指人)易怒的, 性情暴躁的.

  2. unfraternal adj. 无兄弟情的,六亲不认的

  3. benighted adj. (dated 旧) unenlightened morally or intellectually; ignorant; backward 未开化的; 愚昧无知的; 落後的: benighted savages 未开化的野人.

  4. shore up (phr v) support sth with a wooden beam, etc propped against it (以支柱等)支撑: shore up the side of an old house to stop it falling down 支撑旧屋墙壁以防倒塌 * (fig 比喻) She used this evidence to shore up her argument. 她用该证据来支持自己的论点.

  5. cantankerous adj. bad-tempered; quarrelsome 脾气坏的; 好争吵的. –ly adv.

  6. siphon sth into/out of sth; siphon sth off/out draw (a liquid) from one place to another using a siphon 用虹吸管将(液体)抽出: siphon petrol out of a car into a can 把汽车里的汽油用虹吸管抽进罐里 * siphon off all the waste liquid 把全部废液用虹吸管抽掉. siphon sb/sth off (infml often derog 口, 常作贬义) transfer sb/sth from one place to another, often unfairly or illegally 将某人[某物]由一处抽调到另一处(通常指不公正地或非法地): The big clubs siphon off all the best players. 大俱乐部把所有最佳选手都抽调走了. * She siphoned off profits from the business into her account. 她把企业的赢利转到了自己的帐户上.

  7. rancid adj. 1 (of fatty foods) tasting or smelling bad because of staleness (指含油脂食物)因变质而有陈腐味道或气味的: The butter has gone/turned rancid. 这黄油已经哈喇了. 2 (of smells or tastes) like stale fat (指气味或味道)如陈腐脂肪味的: the rancid stench of dirty drains 脏水沟发出的腐臭味.

  8. vassal n. 1 (in the Middle Ages) man promising to fight for and be loyal to a king or lord in return for the right to hold land (中世纪的)封臣, 家臣(为国君或领主效忠可受封土地者). 2 (fig 比喻) person or nation dependent on another 附庸; 下属; 属国: [attrib 作定语] vassal states, kingdoms, etc 附庸国、 王国等.

  9. scam n. (US infml 口) dishonest scheme 骗局; 欺诈: a betting scam 赌博骗局.

  

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