Russia accuses Estonia of "crude politicization" over Nord Stream

  • 2007-10-17
  • From wire reports
BERLIN -- Russian Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said resistance from states such as Estonia to a planned pipeline taking Russian natural gas to western Europe could threaten the future of the project, Oct. 17.

Khristenko told German business daily Financial Times Deutschland that countries on the route of the 1,200-kilometer pipeline, which is to run under the Baltic Sea, had the power to put major obstacles in the way.

"That means a risk for the project," he said.

He accused Estonia of violating international law when it refused a survey permit for the pipeline last month that the Nord Stream consortium, made up of Russian giant Gazprom and German firms BASF and EON, wants to build.

"That is pure politicization of the issue that is being done in a very crude way," he said.

He added that with the move, Estonia had violated the United Nations' so-called Espoo convention on cross-border environmental impact studies and was acting purely in its own "national interest."

The said convention lays down the obligation of states to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have an adverse environmental impact across boundaries.

"What I do not like are problems that arise on the sea route of the pipeline although there are no solid arguments for these problems," the Russian minister said. "Such problems cannot be resolved at the corporate level, only at the political level."

But he stressed that the resistance had not yet caused any delays in the timetable, which aims to turn on the taps by 2010.

Estonia and other countries including Finland have raised environmental and security concerns about the controversial project.

Nord Stream has said it would return to an earlier plan to take the pipeline through Finnish waters as well as those of Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.