Germany, Russia join forces on gas pipeline

BERLIN – While critics within the European Union complain that Germany is putting its own interests above those of other member states, it has signed a $5 billion pipeline agreement with Russia that will bypass the current energy network and transport gas under the Baltic Sea, RIA Novasti, the Russian news agency, reported last week. Russia’s Gazprom will own 51 percent of the pipeline, with Germany’s EON and BASF each taking 24.5 percent.

Germany needs energy agreements to secure its long-term development and revitalize its economy. Russia supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas needs, but German dependency is even greater – a third of all oil and gas imports.

Poland, which joined the EU in May 2004, has called on other EU member to adopt a common policy towards Russia. Polish leaders fear that the new pipeline, which also would bypass EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, could be used to divert energy from Poland for political purposes.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder claimed, "There are no grounds for concern. The Baltic Sea pipeline is a European scale project that is not directed against anybody and that should be open to later participation by third parties."