German-Russian gas pipeline deal angers Poland
7 September 2005
BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder used his last pre-election speech to parliament Wednesday to hail a plan to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic as “signalling the way” to energy security for Germany.
The deal, to be signed Thursday during a visit by Russian President Valdimir Putin, immediately drew fire from Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
“It is not a good development if one of the European Union’s states, an important state – Germany – conducts this kind of policy, both above our head and the heads of the E.U., because in essence this is a Russian-German project which is not part of a common European concept,” Kwasniewski said.
Addressing the Bundestag for the last time before elections on September 18, Schroeder hailed the agreement as “one of the most decisive steps” Germany has taken in securing its energy supplies.
“It establishes the independence of German energy security,” Schroeder said.
Kwasniewski told commercial broadcaster Radio Zet: “This certainly is not a success for Poland.” He added the German side still had some doubts concerning the high cost of the project.
Polish politicians back a new gas pipeline across Polish territory, similar to the existing Yamal line.
Kwasniewski held out the prospect that a new German government under Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel could back away from the costly project.
Merkel’s conservative alliance leads Schroeder’s coalition of Social Democrats and Greens in pre-election opinion polls.
Putin defended the exclusion of other countries, citing both security and cost concerns when speaking to foreign journalists and energy experts in Moscow Tuesday.
And he rejected reports that his visit was timed to boost Schoeder’s ailing electoral fortunes.
“I am not visiting Germany to provide electoral support and also not with the aim of punishing the Eastern Europeans for breaking away,” he said, according to a report in Germany’s Welt newspaper.
The reasons for running the pipeline through the Baltic, rather than through Ukraine or Poland, were the “revolutionary movement” in Ukraine and the lack of the necessary funding in Poland, he said.
“Other countries should not sit between Germany and Russia and profit from our pipeline,” Putin said.
The companies involved in the project, which Russian reports say is estimated to cost EUR 4 billion, are E.ON and BASF from Germany and Russia’s Gazprom.
Gazprom, the largest gas provider in the world, is to hold a majority interest of 51 per cent, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant, with the German companies splitting the rest in equal 24.5 per cent shares.
The pipeline, with an annual carrying capacity of 55 billion cubic metres, is to run from Wyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany.
The gas will come form the Yuzhno-Russkoye field, which has proven reserves of 700 billion cubic metres. Gazprom hopes the pipeline will allow it to sell gas from eastern Russia to countries as far away as Britain.
Subject: German news