Estonian officials reject claims of participation in EU protest against US

Connecting pipe sections above water.
Connecting pipe sections above water. Source: Nord Stream 2.

Estonian representatives have rejected allegations that Estonia took part in a protest about the U.S.-proposed plan to impose sanctions on European companies building the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2.

Politico reported last week that 24 European Union countries protested against the plans during a video conversation with the U.S. in a "diplomatic demarche to Washington". While Estonia did take part in the video meeting, officials deny Estonia's representative agreed with the other countries.

Politco wrote: "The protest was transmitted orally to the U.S. State Department on Wednesday during a videoconference organized by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, German government officials told industry representatives at a briefing in Berlin on Thursday, according to two people who attended the meeting."

Both a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Jonatan Vseviov said Estonia was not among the countries fighting against possible sanctions.

Vseviov wrote on Twitter on Thursday that the article was misleading. "I reject any notion that Estonia participated in a demarche that supports Nord Stream 2. That is simply not true. Last week's videoconference was not a demarche on behalf of the 24 participating countries."

He added: "Estonia's position on Nord Stream 2 has been consistently clear and it has not changed. Nord Stream 2 undermines transatlantic relations, European unity and is detrimental to European energy security. That is why we have always opposed Nord Stream 2 and will continue to do so."

Paet: What is Estonia's position?

Former foreign minister Urmas Paet (Reform) told ERR that, to his knowledge, the Estonian representative took part in the meeting but did not express his dissent at the meeting. 

This is in contrast to Lithuania and Denmark representatives which both said at the meeting that they did not agree with the protest towards the U.S.

"So in this sense, this protest was presented in the form of a video conference, Estonia participated in it, Estonia was silent," Paet, an MEP, said.

He emphasized that although the 24 countries did not express their views to the United States in writing, what was presented at the video conference could also be considered an official protest.

Paet said Estonia must have a very clear position on this issue and not remain silent.

Last week, Estonia's representative to the European Commission Kadri Simson said on August 11 that the EU does not recognize restrictive measures imposed by third countries on European companies. If those companies are complying with EU law, seeming in effect to place the burden of "interfering" on the U.S., rather than on the Russian Federation.

In contrast, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) told ERR that anything that blocks the building of Nord Stream 2 is in Estonia's interests.   

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Estonia continues to oppose Nord Stream 2

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ERR on Wednesday evening that Estonia had not participated in any statements on behalf of the 24 EU member states on Nord Stream 2. Estonia's view is that the EU lacks a common position on the implementation of U.S. sanctions and Nord Stream 2 more broadly.

"Unfortunately, information about a recent meeting with the U.S. State Department has been distorted. The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically denies that participating in a diplomatic meeting can be interpreted as agreeing with the conflicting views of different countries," the ministry said.

"Estonia continues to believe that Nord Stream 2 is not in the interests of the European Union. Russia's goal with Nord Stream 2 is to divide Europe and transatlantic unity."

According to the spokesperson, Estonian diplomats have consistently explained this position to U.S. partners.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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