The Suddeutsche Zeitung, referring to the source in the French government, reported that Paris intends to decline the intention of Berlin relating to Nord Stream 2. Berlin wants to propose the EU to block rules from being extended to incoming pipelines.
Earlier Paris supported Berlin’s approach but the German periodical now informs than France is reluctant to join this initiative and demands strict regulations for both incoming gas pipelines and pipelines running across the EU.
Paris considers that the EU will thus be able to control Nord Stream 2, preventing greater dependence on Russia. France thereby defends the position of several Eastern European states which had earlier raised concerns that Nord Stream 2 would boost Russia’s political influence.
Nord Stream 2 is a Russian-German project involving transportation of the Russian gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea. It will increase the share of Russian gas supplies to the EU. The share of Russian gas in Europe is growing continuously.
Last February the Russian company announced a record share of 35% on the European market. Currently, Gazprom’s share is said to be above 40%. In Europe, the demand for gas is growing. After the operation of Nord Stream 2 the share of Gazprom will increase. The first pipeline is planned to be ready in November 2019, the second in December.
The United States also supports reduction of dependence of the EU on Russian gas. One remembers Trump’s tough statements in 2018 addressed to the German chancellor. The U.S. president stated that the United States spends billions to curb the Russian threat to the security of Europe, including Germany, while Germany signs a gas deal with Russia worth billions of dollars.
Will Berlin step back after Paris refuses to support the new European rules that will not threaten Nord Stream 2 and demand stricter control?
This disagreement is interesting in the context of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent visit to Germany, and earlier he had answered the question of reporters in the context of Nord Stream 2 in Moscow. He was asked whether Russia intends to join the countries which want to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas and consider Nord Stream 2 a security threat.
Prime Minister Pashinyan answered that unfortunately Nord Stream 2 is not built in Armenia but Armenia is interested in building a transit pipeline in our country which will transport gas from A to B.
TANAP is seen as the main alternative to the Russian gas influence, EU’s energy diversification, the implementation of which depends on several economic and political complications. The project intends to transport the Caspian gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. Nonetheless, the implementation of this project is not close, it is even doubted to be able to become a real alternative to the Russian dominance over the European gas market. Moreover, the road here passes across Turkey which will hardly be a more predictable and acceptable partner than Moscow.
Can the Iranian gas be considered as well? This question is highly hypothetical, with clear economic and geopolitical problems.
However, in this context it is interesting that during his visit to Moscow following the forum in Davos Nikol Pashinyan was asked about the gas pipeline, and the abovementioned answer was received. Did the discussion continue in Germany? Will there be a continuation in Iran in late February, pushing the question from a hypothetical to a practical level, or at least bringing it closer to it?
Will the European gas debates, including the maturing France-German debate, force Paris or Berlin to face this issue too, proposing something to Armenia?