Adamkus meets with Merkel, Schroeder, raises thorny pipeline issue

  • 2005-10-27
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS 's President Valdas Adamkus met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and chancellor-elect Angela Merkel and expressed the Baltic states' disappointment that they had been left out of a strategic energy project between Germany and Russia.

Rather than criticizing the pipeline directly, Adamkus, who was in Berlin, said that EU states needed to speak with one voice in foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis Russia. Incoming Chancellor Merkel said on Tuesday that she understands Lithuania's concern over the $5 billion gas pipeline project that will connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea.

She told Adamkus that she is aware of the problems 's including environment 's that could arise if construction of the pipeline goes ahead.

Merkel even said she believes Russia could use the pipeline to pressure Germany and other EU countries and promised to raise the issue when meeting with Russian leaders, according to various reports.

Merkel is set to become chancellor on Nov. 22.

Russia and Germany signed the historic pipeline deal in September. The pipeline bypasses the Baltics and Poland and given Russia, which has the largest supplies of natural gas in the world, direct access to its largest consumer.

The Baltic states bristled at the project, calling it "political" and "contrary to economic sense."

The three countries and Poland had been hoping that any new pipeline would run through their territory and become both a source of revenue and a guarantor that Russia would not use existing pipelines to the region as a tool of influence. Russia, however, is loathe to depend on the Baltics and Poland, with whom relations are perennially sour, since its two existing pipelines to Europe via Ukraine and Belarus have proven to be unreliable.

Merkel told Adamkus that Germany should pay more attention to the smaller EU members. In her opinion, the European Union should pursue a common policy towards Russia. "We should do this, or at least try to do this," she was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Schroeder told Adamkus he would not budge on the project, since every nation had the right to guarantee its energy supplies.