EU: Guy Verhofstadt calls to ‘reconsider’ Nord Stream 2
Angela Merkel has defied Emmanuel Macron’s demands to end construction on Nord Stream 2, a ten billion euro pipeline which will double natural gas deliveries from Russia to Germany. There had been calls from Brussels as well as France for Germany to stop the pipeline following the Russian crackdown on opposition and the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. However, Ms Merkel defied these threats during a joint press conference with Mr Macron, who declined to repeat his demands.
Ms Merkel and her French counterpart held talks on Friday to discuss EU defence, the US and Russia.
The meeting was part of a German-French defence and security council that was founded in 2017.
When asked whether Putin’s recent moves would derail the Nord Stream 2, Ms Merkel insisted her government’s position remains unchanged.
She added: “But we share the opinion that we should not become unilaterally energy dependent on Russia.”
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Mr Macron declined to re-issue his demand to stop the construction, telling reporters: “I believe that nothing can be said about Nord Stream 2, which is now almost complete, without very close coordination between Germany and France.
“We will continue to work together to develop a European energy strategy that is more sovereign and also takes climate issues into account, and to have a strategic exchange with Russia, where we are also ambitious when it comes to energy.”
France24’s James Vasina explained: “A business opportunity for one could mean diplomatic concerns for the other.
“The EU has urged Germany to review the bloc’s dependence on Moscow and asked to increase pressure on the Kremlin over the detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.”
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Earlier this week, leading MEP Guy Verhofstadt said: “We need, as fast as possible, more sanctions, broader sanctions, to more Russians, to the oligarchs.
“I have not said it before, but I think Nord Stream 2 has to be reconsidered in that respect.”
French European Affairs minister Clement Beaune told France Inter radio on Monday that France always had “the greatest doubts” on the Nord Stream 2 project.
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Asked specifically if France wanted Germany to cancel the pipeline project, Mr Beaune said: “Indeed, we have already said this.”
In their joint press conference, both Mr Macron and Ms Merkel condemned Russia’s decision to expel diplomats from Sweden, Germany and Poland over their participation in the Navalny protests.
Russia earlier announced the expulsions, accusing the diplomats of taking part in illegal protests last month.
Chancellor Merkel condemned the expulsions as “unjustified” and confirmed that the foreign ministry had summoned the Russian ambassador “for an urgent meeting and made the German position very clear to him”.
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