DW – World.DE
January 30, 2008
The journey of the controversial gas pipeline that Germany and Russia are planning to build along the Baltic seabed took another twist when Poland said it would take its own proposal on the pipeline’s route to Moscow.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will travel to the Russian capital on Feb. 8 and will present Poland’s alternative route, which would be 20 percent shorter and cost only a fraction of the planned Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic, according to Poland’s Dziennik daily newspaper.
The Polish Economics Ministry confirmed that Tusk would bring a new plan to Moscow during his first visit since taking office in November but refused to confirm the newspaper’s speculation over the details.
“We are preparing a report on the transport of gas via a land route, which is simpler, less expensive and more secure,” Economics Ministry spokesman Piotr Zbikowski said. “The prime minister will take this report with him to Moscow.”
Dziennik reported that the new Polish proposal had been “agreed with Baltic and Nordic states” and foresees the construction of a pipeline from Russia to Germany via Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Polish proposal avoids seabed route
The alternative route has been developed in an attempt by Poland to avoid the seabed route planned by Russian energy titan Gazprom and Germany’s EON and BASF and which has been vehemently opposed by Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Several Scandinavian countries have also questioned the German-Russian plan.
Tusk will offer an alternative to avoid a stand-off with Russia
Poland’s previous conservative-nationalist government regularly slammed the project, and while Tusk has pledged to rebuild ties with Moscow after years of bad blood, he has not indicated that Warsaw will drop its opposition.
Among the fears expressed by the four countries, which used to fall under Russia sphere of influence before the fall of the Iron Curtain, is that opting for an underwater rather than a land route will enable Gazprom to cut off supplies to them without affecting its customers in its western European.
Russia has regularly been accused of using Gazprom’s control of a hefty slice of Europe’s gas market for political ends, allegedly turning off the taps to punish governments in Moscow’s communist-era stamping ground that fail to toe the Kremlin’s line.
Germany accused of securing own interests
Germany has meanwhile faced accusations of sidelining the interests of other members of the European Union in eastern Europe to secure its own gas supplies.
The German government has rounded on its critics, calling for less “hysteria” in the debate.
The Baltic Sea countries Finland and Sweden have focused on environmental concerns, but a number of other western European countries have praised the Nord Stream pipeline, which is meant to begin pumping natural gas 1,200 kilometers (740 miles) from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany as of 2011.
DW staff (nda) | www.dw-world.de | © Deutsche Welle.