BRATISLAVA – Slovakia is against Nord Stream 2 and is appealing to the European Commission and EU Member States to block Moscow’s plans to expand the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, Slovakia’s Economy Minister told New Europe.
“We believe that the enlargement of Nord Stream is against the European rules but also the European spirit,” Vazil Hudák said in an interview on the sidelines of the TATRA SUMMIT in Bratislava on November 6.
Hudák argued that doubling the existing Baltic pipeline’s capacity, which bypasses Ukraine, is against the so-called European Third Energy Package because it does not allow the use of the pipeline by third-party gas shippers. “It is against basically the liberalisation process which is under way in the European Union,” he said.
The Slovak Economic Minister said, “If Nord Stream 2 is put in operation it means that there would be no need to move any gas from Russia through Ukraine to the West”. He noted that this would deem the traditional gas transportation route through Ukraine unnecessary, creating a major budgetary problem for the former Soviet republic that relies on Russian gas transit revenues.
“It will certainly have a secondary impact to Slovakia as well because it means less gas shipments to Slovakia,” Hudák said.
Moreover, he said that building Nord Stream 2 would increase the dependence of the European countries on Russian gas because it would basically decrease the need for any further diversification. “This is a project that has all these problems and we need to reconsider any participation in it,” he said.
Hudák called for a coordinated approach on the political and economic level to express their worries to the European Commission and EU Member States, especially Germany that is a major partner in Nord Stream 2. “We’re very much supported by the countries in the region of Central Europe – such as Hungary, Poland, certainly Ukraine. Ukrainian government is very much of the same opinion so our plan is to raise formal official appeals both to the European Commission but also to activate Member States of the European Union to support us in this position,” Hudák said.
The Slovak minister said he recently discussed the issue with Maroš Šefčovič, who was also at the TATRA SUMMIT, noting that the European Commission Vice President also has serious doubts about the project and doesn’t really fit in the overall movement towards the Energy Union.
On the commercial level, Hudák stressed, “Commercial players like Gazprom have to behave according to European rules”. He added that Slovakia has a long-term gas contract with the Russian gas monopoly. “We are not against Gazprom as such. But we believe that Europe has to set up the rules itself and the relations with third parties should be driven by European priorities,” he said.
He called for a consistent European strategy. “If one of the European priorities is to diversify sources of gas because of energy security, if one of the priorities is to support Ukraine,” he said laughing, “Then we don’t understand why, on the other hand, we would have a project which would de facto decrease the diversity of gas, which would undercut Ukraine”.
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