World Controversial Baltic Sea gas pipeline: Race for "Nord Stream 2" reopened

18:15  07 february  2021
18:15  07 february  2021 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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Construction of the "Nord Stream 2" gas pipeline continues after a long break. The political dispute over the project remains unresolved.

Der russische Rohrleger © Photo: Jens Büttner / dpa The Russian pipe fitter "Fortuna", here still in the port of Wismar

The "Fortuna" is working again. According to the operator, the Russian special ship started laying pipes for the "Nord Stream 2" gas pipeline in the Danish Baltic Sea at the weekend.

This means that the race against time is entering the next phase, something that operators and supporters on the one hand and critics of the pipeline on the other have been delivering for a good 15 years. And an end to the dispute is not in sight for the time being.

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Because despite US sanctions, political pressure also in the EU and regardless of the Russian dealings with the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny , the federal government sticks to its position that the project is not political, but a purely economic one. "One is business relationships and business projects that have existed for decades, the other is serious human rights violations and our reactions to them," affirmed Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) in "Bild am Sonntag".

"Clear answer" - but not solely at German expense

Altmaier put on record that he could imagine a "clear answer" from the EU to the arrest and conviction of Nawalny. This “unheard-of process” has nothing to do with the rule of law.

But that could only be a joint answer from the EU states - that is to say: not simply at the expense of German companies "who would lose enormous investments."

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One could read from these sentences the tacit assumption that others EU states are also calling for the gas pipeline to be stopped because this solidarity campaign would cost nothing to Navalny.

At least for France, whose President Emmanuel Macron recently joined the ranks of the “Nord Stream 2” critics, this is not entirely true. But Macron's startling turnaround was short-lived.

Even after the expulsion of EU diplomats from Russia who allegedly took part in protests by Navalny supporters against President Vladimir Putin, Chancellor Merkel emphasized in a press conference with the French on Friday that the position on the pipeline would remain “for the time being untouched. ”And Macron himself rowed back after the virtual meeting: he understood that Germany relied on gas for its energy policy and was now“ in complete solidarity ”with Berlin.

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Altmaier was able to stay in his position that much easier. The CDU man and his boss hardly have to worry because the coalition parties are strengthening each other in one of the otherwise most controversial projects in Europe.

The SPD, too, is firmly committed to the

project. The SPD is usually quick to hold the Union against un-European national thinking and excessive economic proximity. For “Nord Stream 2” the Social Democrats drive full flank protection. The most obvious evidence is the "Environmental Foundation", which Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's SPD Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig co-founded for the sole recognizable purpose of undermining the US sanctions against all companies involved in the construction of the pipeline and that of the Russian Gazprom - chief lobbyist: Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) - to be supplied with material and machines if necessary.

The "Fortuna" does not need this detour. After a year of forced break and a first test run in December, the Russian pipeline construction continues where Swiss companies operate Special ships had withdrawn under US pressure.

The fact that the USA has declared the “Fortuna” to be “blocked property” should not be a problem for its operator KVT-RUS - American territory is far in the Baltic Sea, but the new one should also finish undisturbed The ship does not do the work. Around 150 kilometers of pipe are still missing, 30 of them in German waters. The Federal Maritime Agency and Hydrogr aphie extended the approval for this until the end of May. However, it is currently suspended because environmental groups have appealed.

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