'They are making idiots of us' says Slovakia PM Robert Fico
This article originally appeared at EurActiv
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today (10 September) that a deal between Russia's Gazprom and its European partners to expand the Nord Stream gas pipeline was a "betrayal" that would cost Ukraine and Slovakia a combined billions of euros.
Last week, Gazprom and its European partners signed a shareholders' agreement on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project that will bypass Ukraine and run beneath the Baltic Sea to Europe, bringing Europe closer into Moscow's energy orbit, a move criticized by the US energy envoy.
Gazprom, E.ON, BASF/Wintershall, OMV, ENGIE and Royal Dutch Shell formed the new consortium for the project.
"For months, there have (been) talks at the European Council about the need to help Ukraine stay a gas transit country, to help it through difficult winter months," Fico told a joint news conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk.
‘They are making idiots of us’
"Suddenly an announcement came from Gazprom signing a contact with companies from western EU member states about building another branch of Nord Stream. The are making idiots of us.”
"They have betrayed an EU member state - Slovakia - and are going against political discussions with Ukraine at the European Council”, Fico said.
Slovakia provides reserve gas flows to Ukraine to help the country decrease its dependence from Gazprom. Russia has called the practice “illegal”.
Polish President Andrzej Duda too has made strong statements against the deal between Gazprom and the Western firms, to build a second gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, saying it ignores Polish interests.
Russia provides for around a third of EU energy needs, but around half of the gas the EU imports from Gazprom is shipped via Ukraine, with which Russia is in conflict. It wants to find new ways to deliver gas to Europe bypassing its neighbour.