The German-Russian deal struck last autumn to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to pump natural gas from Russia continues to raise concerns in the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine. These countries’ leaders have said they felt uneasy about, what they felt was, deals being made behind their back on an issue as vital as energy security.
by Michal Zajac
Even though most of the information concerning the manner in which the gas pipeline will be constructed remains secret, environmentalists in the Baltic states still say that threats to the environment do exist. After all, the gas pipeline is to be laid on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, there may be a temptation to add more pipelines to transport chemicals or crude oil. According to Estonian environmental protection expert Marek Strandberg no matter how advanced technologies are applied, the life of the Baltic Sea along the pipe line will feel their consequences.
Estonia, just like the remaining Baltic states, is opposed to the German-Russian plans. The four billion euro project to construct a 1,200-km gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea is to be completed by 2010. The pipeline is to skirt Estonia, so Tallinn doesn’t feel it will lose any potential transit fees, but it’s still voicing its reluctance to the venture.
But when it comes to the Baltic states, there is one overriding concern. Estonians still feel that Russia is casting a long shadow over their newly independent country. Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute Andres Kasekamp argues that Estonia’s concerns over the German-Russian pipeline have several dimensions. The Baltic simply have painful memories of Soviet occupation and wish to be distanced from any dependence on Moscow.
But Germany and Russia ......
......... stand by the deal signed by Gerhard Schroeder and Valdimir Putin in Berlin on September 8 last year. The pipeline’s construction is likely to go ahead next year. Estonia is aware that opposing the plans can bring about no results. That’s why Prime Minister Andrus Ansip is determined to focus on diversifying energy sources.
‘We are very much interested in having our energy system connected to the Scandinavian and Polish ones. To achieve this goal Estonia and Poland will ask for funds from the European Union.’
At present the European Union’s Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy is open to public consultation. On the basis of responses given, the European Commission will develop more precise ideas on Europe’s common energy issues.