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Estonia calls for Nord Stream halt

  • 2007-10-31
  • From press reports

PIPE DREAMS: Will Gazprom ever get to connect one end of Nord Stream to the other? (Photo: Gazprom)

HELSINKI -- Estonia is actively canvassing countries bordering the Baltic Sea to give up plans to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russian to Germany, according to reports in the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat.

"The straight route from Russia to the European Union goes through the countries neighboring Russia. Nord Stream's political and economic aspirations will jeopardize the environment of the Baltic Sea," a letter from the Estonian government is quoted as saying.

The document also expresses apprehension over the possibility that Russian military ships could guard the pipeline. "The security of the Baltic Sea can be improved through entirely different means," the letter says.

"Our clear hope is that the pipeline would run along the land", Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat last weekend.

Paet poses numerous awkward questions concerning the pipeline project. "Why didn't Nordstream want to investigate a real alternative - the overland option? Why do they want a pipeline which could affect the Baltic in an unpredictable manner?"

"Routing plans were made for so long among few states. The Baltic countries and Poland were kept outside the negotiations for a long time, even though they are coastal states on the Baltic Sea."

Recent speculation that Russia could use its Baltic naval fleet to guard the pipeline during construction and might even to use submarines to patrol the sea bed have hardened Estonian opposition to the project. 

"Why did Russia have to make such an announcement? Why did the economic project have to be tied down militarily and politically?" Paet asked in his interview.