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Baltic, German foreign ministers split on Nord Stream pipeline

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who met with their German colleague in Palanga on Friday, disagreed with him when it came to the Nord Stream 2 submarine gas pipeline planned to be built in the Baltic Sea by Russian gas company Gazprom.

"Estonia believes that this is first and foremost a political, not a business project, which is incompatible with the objectives of the energy policy of the European Union and does not contribute to EU's energy independence and diversification of suppliers," Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said. Similar views were expressed by Latvian and Lithuanian colleagues Edgars Rinkēvičs and Linas Linkevičius during a press conference held after the meeting.

Meeting with Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas said that Berlin considers Nord Stream 2 a business project and reiterated the same stance in Palanga on Friday.

"It is clear that this is one specific issue on which the view of the Baltic countries differs from the approach of the German government, which considers Nord Stream 2 first and foremost a commercial project of private companies, while admitting that from the perspective of other countries along the Baltic Sea, the project has a fair amount of political and geopolitical aspects," Mikser told BNS. "Regarding one particular topic, which is Ukraine and the future of the gas pipeline passing through it, it seems that this is being fairly seriously handled and considered."

The Estonian minister noted, however, that it is necessary to address other threats concerning Nord Stream as well, in particular how Europe's general dependency on Russia is increasing, and that the latter make use the gas card to achieve political impact in other matters as well. "These are the issues which were to some extent addressed by the European gas directive amendment posed by the European Commission," Mikser noted. "It is definitely important to move forward quickly with that."

According to Mikser, however, the four foreign ministers had no other significant disagreements regarding the other issues discussed at their meeting, including the future of Europe, the EU's new multiannual financial framework (MFF) proposal, EU's Eastern Partnership, preparations for the upcoming NATO summit as well as relations with Russia.

The 1,230-kilometer Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is to run adjacent to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline completed in 2012, is to begin supplying natural gas from Russia to Central Europe. The capacity of the gas pipelines is 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. If all permits are granted, the installation of the gas pipeline along the Baltic seabed will begin this year, and construction should be completed by early 2020.

Several EU member states and the European Commission are of the opinion that Nord Stream 2 is not in accordance with the objectives of the European energy union and does not help to diversify supply sources.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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