Merkel wants closer energy links with Poland

30th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

30 October 2006, Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday she would push for Poland and the Baltic states to be linked to European Union natural gas and electricity grids in order to supply energy in case of future cut-offs from countries such as Russia. At a news conference with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Merkel stood by her country's planned Baltic Sea gas pipeline linking Germany and Russia which is being routed to avoid crossing Poland and other east European states. B

30 October 2006

Berlin (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday she would push for Poland and the Baltic states to be linked to European Union natural gas and electricity grids in order to supply energy in case of future cut-offs from countries such as Russia.

At a news conference with Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Merkel stood by her country's planned Baltic Sea gas pipeline linking Germany and Russia which is being routed to avoid crossing Poland and other east European states.

But in bid to heal the Berlin-Warsaw rift over the pipeline, she vowed to use next year's German presidency of the European Union to integrate Poland as well as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into EU energy grids.

"We agreed to discuss energy supply ... in the sense that we create a common European energy market in both electricity and natural gas supply and that naturally Poland and the Baltic states must have access to the European gas markets," said Merkel.

Kaczynski, who has been strongly critical of Germany regarding the Baltic pipeline, welcomed Merkel's initiative due to fears that suppliers could use "energy as a weapon."

"The idea is that Poland would get deliveries from western European states in case of danger," he said, adding that Norway was under discussion as a possible source.

Russian earlier this year briefly cut off gas to Ukraine over a pricing dispute in a move widely seen as Moscow's new policy of using its energy riches as a diplomatic lever.

Merkel admitted that fully connecting Poland and the Baltic states to EU energy grids, especially the gas grid, would be "difficult" but that she expected initial decisions to be made at an EU summit hosted by Germany next March.

Kaczynski again rejected a German proposal to build an offshoot pipeline from the Russian-German Baltic project to supply Poland.

"We would become even more dependent on Gazprom than before," he said in a reference to Russia's state-owned gas supplier.

While making headway on energy, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Kaczynski remained at loggerheads over property issues related to the post-1945 expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland.

Merkel said she opposed moves by a private expellee group calling itself the "Prussian Treuhand" to bring lawsuits against Poland in a bid to win compensation for lost property.

But while she repeated the German state's vow never to make any claims against Poland, she firmly rejected Polish calls for a formal treaty to cement Berlin's position and bar individuals from launching lawsuits.

"I am against such a treaty because it would complicate things," Merkel said.

Kaczynski countered that his government firmly believes such a treaty would help improve ties. "We need such an additional resolution."

Poland has also been alarmed over an exhibit on the millions of ethnic Germans expelled from territories which became part of Poland after World War II.

Part of East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia were given to Poland in 1945 in exchange for territory the Polish state lost to the former Soviet Union.

Poland suffered massive losses after being attacked by Nazi Germany in 1939 at the start of World War II. Millions of Poles were killed and Warsaw was razed to the ground by Adolf Hitler's troops.

The Polish government has threatened to bring a counter-lawsuit against Germany seeking billions of euros in compensation for its war losses.

Kaczynski notes that such claims put in question property ownership covering more than one-third of Polish territory.

DPA

Subject: German news

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