Gas pipeline irks Baltic leaders

  • 2005-09-14
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - She added that Germany "apparently thought that it could make a decision with Russia all by itself without considering the fact that such a major energy project will, after all, affect very many EU member states." The president said that EU solidarity had been ignored during the deal. She added that, as one of the Baltic Sea states, Latvia had grounds to voice concern about the project's environmental threats.

Aivars Ozolins, a columnist for the Diena daily, opined that the gas pipeline could divide Europe. "Latvia's government, together with our European Union allies, will have to start a serious discussion about a long-term energy security strategy for both the state and the region, instead of just continuing to hope that the gas pipeline will not be built," he wrote.

Vytautas Landsbergis, a renowned critic of Russia, warned that the "pact" could lead to a "rearrangement" of Europe's map. "This new Russian-German alliance, which today falls under the international term of "energy alliance," is designed to rearrange the political map of Europe. Unfortunately, Europe is in the position to finance it," he told a meeting of the Baltic-European parliamentary group.

Lithuanian environmentalists were quick to warn of the project's dangers, particularly in light of chemical weapons that have been decaying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for half a century.

"If the gas pipeline is laid via a burial site of chemical weapons, there will be danger. Furthermore, these bombs, which Russians threw overboard as a barge was drifting during the years of World War II, are scattered around a very large area and nobody can precisely say if they are in one place or another. I'm afraid that they will not manage to bypass (the chemical weapons) and therefore, any work in the Baltic Sea is dangerous," Algirdas Stankevicius, director of the Marine Research Center of the Environment Ministry, told the Baltic News Service. Still, some analysts saw the potential economic benefits for Russia in relation to Ukraine.

"For European exports, Gazprom pays Ukraine for $1.7 billion worth of gas deliveries per year at prices three times less than European prices. ...At that rate, it will soon get returns on its investment of $2.5 billion in the pipeline construction," Artyom Konchin, an oil and gas analyst at the Aton brokerage in Moscow told The Moscow Times.