Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser stated in an interview with German daily Die Welt that it is in the EU's best interests to stop work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline expansion project, since its construction serves Russia's geopolitical interests.
Nord Stream 2, like its predecessor Nord Stream, is projected to run under the Baltic Sea from the terminal in Russia [in the case of Nord Stream 2 at Ust Luga between St. Petersburg and the Estonian border - ed] and supply gas to western Europe.
"I make no secret of the fact that I do not like this project. It's not an economic project, but a geopolitical one. It is in contradiction with the principles of the EUs energy policy. It is leverage for Russia to intervene in European politics," Mr. Mikser said in the interview yesterday, Monday.
Strained US-EU relations a cause for worry?
On being asked whether, given the geopolitical situation together with the fact that US President Donald Trump also opposes the building of the new pipeline, German policy, hitherto in favour of the project, is at odds with the current of opinion, Mr. Mikser noted that a change in German thinking on the issue seems to be in the air.
Chancellor Angela Merkel recently acknowledged the political implications of the pipeline, he said.
When asked about the apparent growing rift between the EU and America, in the light of President Trump's recent comments about the EU in particular, Mr. Mikser remained sanguine about US-EU relations, noting that differences were ones of tactical details rather than first principles.
"We follow international law under the same understanding that the US does,'' Mikser said.
''We have a commonality of interests and positions with the US in many areas, but Russia, by contrast, has used military power to influence events in other countries, something we must not ignore or forget."
The rise of populism
Noting the convergence between Russian interests and the apparent rise of various populist or illiberal movements across Europe in recent years, Mikser said that the phenomenon's purpose is ''...to discredit a liberal democracy. To sow doubt among European citizens. Russia has not yet made decisive progress in this, but we have to be vigilant."
The Trump-Putin summit
With the imminent Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Die Welt asked whether Estonia had cause to be worried. Mikser responded that statements made in Trump's election campaign in 2016 are different from what has panned out in reality:
"This US president certainly has a more colourful approach than his predecessors, but the level of defence spending amongst the NATO member states has long been a topic. This was already an issue during Obama's presidency; it was also a topic during the Bush administration,'' said Mr. Mikser, referring to the 2% of GDP required contribution to NATO, a figure which Estonia has met.
Sven Mikser also stated that Russia's intervention in Ukraine in 2014 was cause for alarm for NATO, and its presence in the Central and Eastern European member states was consequently increased.
However, according to Mr. Mikser it is necessary to go further and strengthen, for example, defence of the Baltic Sea, the very sea under which Nordstream 2 is set to run.
For their part, the interview did not go unnoticed amongst the authorities of the Russian Federation.
Aleksei Pushkov, Chairman of the Foreign Committee of the Russian State Parliament (Duma) and no stranger to comment on Estonia affairs, opined that Estonia had no claim on anything and that nobody was interested in Estonian opinion, in a tweet directly concerning that very opinion.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: ERR Uudised