German, Polish leaders clash over Russia gas pipeline plan| MENAFN.COM

Saturday, 28 January 2023 01:42 GMT

German, Polish leaders clash over Russia gas pipeline plan

(MENAFN- AFP)German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday voiced disagreement over plans for a direct Russia-Germany gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea that would bypass eastern Europe.

Morawiecki, on a Berlin visit, argued that the Nord Stream II project contradicts EU plans to diversify its energy resources and would allow Russia to shut out the conflict-torn transit country Ukraine.

"I don't agree that it represents diversification," the conservative Polish leader said at a joint press conference with Merkel. "It is gas from the same source, via a different pipeline."

Merkel acknowledged that "we have different opinions on the topic" but stressed common ground in other areas after relations have been strained by issues including refugee quotas and Warsaw's judicial reforms.

Morawiecki earlier told Germany's Die Welt daily that if the new 1,200-kilometre (745-mile) pipeline replaced one through Ukraine, then Moscow could "escalate the conflict with Ukraine, attack all of Ukraine".

He stressed at the press conference that a single producer must "not be allowed to have a monopoly and force its prices on the European Union".

Russia and Germany are already connected by a first Nord Stream pipeline, which makes Germany a major hub for Russian gas without having to pay fees to any transit countries.

- 'No lies about Poland' -

The trip was meant to be a fence-mending visit, with Morawiecki saying earlier he wanted it to "boost both our economic and political cooperation".

Germany and Poland have clashed on a range of issues since the nationalist Law and Justice party came to power -- including its attempts to reform the judiciary and its rejection of EU refugee quotas.

Warsaw has come under fire from Brussels and several European countries for introducing controversial reforms that according to the EU could threaten the independence of the judiciary.

On December 20, after months of warnings, the European Commission launched an unprecedented procedure against Poland that could strip Warsaw of its voting rights in the bloc if it does not scrap the reforms.

Merkel reiterated that all EU member states must respect "the principles of the rule of law" and said her government supported the efforts of the European Commission.

She also said there were differences on the topic of migrants and asylum seekers, after the Polish government warned last month that it would not budge on its refusal to take in an EU quota of refugees.

Morawiecki also defended a bill that would penalise statements attributing Nazi German crimes to the Polish state with a jail sentence of up to three years.

Germany has refrained from criticising Poland over the issue, and Merkel stressed that Germany "assumes its responsibility" for the crimes of the Nazi era.

The Polish leader said the bill's aim was "to ensure worldwide that no lies are spread about Poland".



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