Finland has a very different attitude to energy trade with Russia, says Elering head
Russian company Rosatom has been contracted to build a new nuclear power plant in Hahnikivi, Finland. Taavi Veskimägi, the head of state company Elering, which manages the Estonian electricity system, said that although the EU wants to decrease reliance on Russian gas and electricity, Finland has a rather different view.
Estonian daily Postimees reported over the weekend that the cooperation between Finland and Russia on nuclear energy also makes Estonia more reliant on energy imports from Russia, as Estonia and Finland are connected through underwater power cables.
Veskimägi told Vikerraadio that he would not view Finland's actions as separate from those of certain other EU member states, specifically Hungary and Cyprus.
"I find that Finland's behavior illustrates the great polarity within the EU on the energy question, especially what regards to third countries," he said.
Last week, the European Commission published a plan for an energy union, which aims to create a common market and cut dependence on Russia. "However, that's the EC's approach. Some countries have a different attitude to Russia. Working with the Finnish on energy questions on a daily bases, I've noticed how their approach to Russia as a partner is very different from ours," Veskimägi said.
He said that Finland sees Russia as a trustworthy partner, referring to its 30 years of experience and uninterrupted gas or electricity supply, and that's what it's decision to further strengthen cooperation is based on.
"There are a lot of good ideas and strong rhetoric [in the EU], but when it comes to how it should all work in practice, it becomes evident that every member state has a very different idea and vision of what's the economically best solution for them in particular. Finland too must think it's being rational, doing what's economically profitable. However, this undermines the key value - trust. An energy union can only work on trust," he said.
"That Finland's approach to Russia is very different from our own is a problem. If energy trade on Estonian-Russian border is today zero, then the Finns see the integration of Finnish and Russian markets as a possibility, and that despite of geopolitical issues and the situation in Ukraine. It's not just about the energy, it's a much larger, fundamental difference," he added.