Baltic politicians assail Russia for energy policy

  • 2006-01-18
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Three prominent Baltic politicians and a Pole criticized Russia for using energy exports as a weapon in a letter to the Financial Times, particularly against Ukraine and then Moldova.

"By turning the tap off before the eyes of millions, Gazprom showed how the threat of cutting off energy sources is carried out and the meaning of the (mysterious for some) words 'energy safety' and 'diversification.' Gazprom educated not only millions of people, but first of all the political elite, and what had been unclear for many became obvious for everybody," the letter stated.

The letter was signed by former Prime Minister Mart Laar, former Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis, former Latvian Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, and former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. The latter three are currently members of the European Parliament.

"In a few years we will all be grateful to Vladimir Putin for having prompted Europe to think seriously about the efficient use of energy and increased diversification of sources," they wrote.

The letter points out that the gas pipeline planned for the bottom of the Baltic Sea is not a solution to earlier problems, but a new problem that may undermine the energy security of some EU members. What's more, it could eventually lead to an ecological catastrophe in the Baltic Sea.

"The gas row shows that Russia will not refrain from using energy as a weapon, regardless of the medium- or long-term consequences, even if they inconvenience the partners Russia needs most," the signatories wrote.

According to Laar, the letter was triggered by the Ukrainian-Russian gas row, which was followed by a similar spat between Moldova and Russia. "Russia began putting pressure on its Western-biased neighbors, the clear sign of this being that the gas prices for the last European dictatorship, Belarus, and the Transneistran puppet government, a Russian dependency, the gas prices were left unchanged," he said.

Laar added that the credibility of Russia as an energy supplier had come under a question mark, and it was therefore high-time to start looking for other solutions.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Parliament's delegation for Moldova, Estonian MEP Marianne Mikko, expressed concern over the hardship that the abrupt discontinuation of Russian gas supplies had on residents of Moldova. Mikko said via spokespeople for the Estonian Social Democratic Party that, based on human considerations alone, Gazprom should not resort to such crude blackmail.

Mikko expressed hope that the European Union would be able under the guidance of the Austrian presidency to make an effective contribution to solving the present conflict and avoiding similar incidents in the future.