Polish PM Warns against Germany’s Gas Dependence

Politics » DIPLOMACY | March 11, 2014, Tuesday // 14:58| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Polish PM Warns against Germany’s Gas Dependence Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Photo by EPA/BGNES

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Monday that "German dependence on Russian gas could effectively limit European sovereignty".

At a military base in Siemirowice, on Poland's Baltic Sea coast, he warned that the EU will not be able to successfully resist against aggressive or expansionist Russian steps in the future "if so many European countries will be dependent on [Russian] gas, the EUObserver has quoted Tusk as saying.

The Prime Minister of Poland, which is now considered one of the leading EU economies, made his comments ahead of a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Poland on Wednesday. 

He urged Germany to reduce the share of Russian gas going through its energy grid "for the sake of EU foreign policy".

Tusk added that he intended to speak with Chancellor Merkel "in what way Germany could correct its economic behavior so that dependence on Russian gas does not paralyze Europe when it needs to act quickly and unambiguously".

Even though his remarks explicitly referred to Germany, he asserted that dependence on Russian gas was a common EU problem.

European leaders have been recently debating the potential developments of EU energy policy as threat of gas supply disruption is looming as a possible aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis.

On Friday last week, Russian energy giant Gazprom, often seen as the economic lever of Russian foreign policy, vowed to stop gas deliveries for Ukraine (the transit country through which most of Russian gas for Europe goes) if it does not pay its debt to the company.

The possibility of European sanctions to Russia over its reaction to the standoff in Ukraine's region of Crimea could also lead to banning the import of Russian gas.

Such a development would cause much trouble to Germany (with 40% of its supplies coming from Russia), but also to Bulgaria, Finland, Lithuania, and Slovakia. Poland, on the other hand, would not be severely affected, as it gets most of its energy from domestically produced coal. 

Poland is also known as an active voice in EU foreign policy toward Ukraine, with its Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, having played a significant role in easing tensions in Kiev amid a wave of unrest in mid-February.

Economic measures in response to the Ukrainian crisis were in fact taken by the EU on Monday, after the European Commission decided to delay talks with Gazprom over the South Stream pipeline project.

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Tags: Donald Tusk, Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland, Angela Merkel, Germany, gas supplies, Gazprom, Russia, Ukraine
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