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Sunday 22.10.2017 | Name days: Irīda, Īrisa
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Opinion: Latvia is behind other countries both politically and economically

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«Unfortunately, often the desire of our politicians to defend national interests is on par with that of the American president in relation to activities of Russian hackers. When two transit companies asked the government to compensate income of EUR 8.3 million lost because of the government’s stance on Ventspils Freeport’s involvement in Nord Stream 2 project, those businessmen were immediately called shameless,» Dienas Biznes journalist Egons Mudulis comments the situation with Nord Stream 2 project in Latvia.

He reminds that previously ministers decided that the project jointly realized by Russia, Germany and Austria presents serious risks for Latvia’s national security. «When American sanctions threatened to cover European companies participating in Nord Stream 2, German and Austrian foreign affairs ministers recommended Americans not to poke their noses in European energy affairs.»

Mudulis notes that Washington sees Moscow’s gas supply expansion activities as a threat to its global and political interests. «Of course Ukraine and Poland have national interests to put ahead of transports Russian gas to Europe through pipelines on their territories. The Swedish also put their interests ahead – a single port will not participate in this project and will be paid compensation. But another port will because money does not seem to smell to our overseas friends…» says the journalist.

Dienas Biznes representative says that when Klaipeda launched a liquefied gas terminal, the economy ministry of the neighbouring country invited all interested sides to find ways to use new infrastructure for the benefit of local industry.

«Similar to other European countries, thinking of its national interests, Lithuania is not shy about Russian, Norwegian or American gas. No matter the political rhetoric in relation to Russia, its transits by rail to Kaliningrad are a much higher priority than Belarusian cargoes headed to Klaipeda port. […] I cannot recall when our country’s politicians were serious in their intentions to defend Latvia’s political and national interests in spite of opinions from near and far-away neighbourts in Europe and on the other side of the ocean had to say about that,» says Mudulis.

According to him, this leads to Latvia lagging behind other countries both politically and economically.

Considering the stance of the Latvian Republic in relation to Nord Stream 2 project, in which the Cabinet of Ministers decided not to permit the participation of Ventspils Freeport, Noord Natie Ventspils Terminal and Baltic Express have decided to ask the government to compensate lost profits. An official request has been submitted to the prime minister.

It is mentioned in the two companies’ statement that the government had asked the economy minister, transport minister, environmental protection and regional development minister and finance minister to ensure that state representatives appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers to the management board of Ventspils Freeport to vote against any possible involvement of the freeport in Nord Stream 2, which in turn resulted in the rejection of cooperation between Ventspils Freeport and Nord Stream 2.

Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals board member Aivars Gobins notes Nord Stream 2 project would have secured work and technological development for Ventspils Freeport.

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis has said it is hard to comment on contents of the letter. At the same time, he said there is no reason for the government to compensate anything to anyone.

Nord Stream 2 is planned as an underwater pipeline that will be built on the seabed of the Baltic Sea. It will connect Russia with clients in Europe. NordStream 2AG plans to build the pipeline connect Russia and Germany. The pipeline itself is planned to go through exclusive zones of Finland, Sweden and Denmark, as well as Denmark’s territorial waters. The total costs of this project are estimated at EUR 9.5 billion. Construction is set to commence April 2018.

Multiple EU member states have voiced sharp opinions of this project. Baltic officials in particular believe Nord Stream 2 is a geopolitical project and that it goes against EU Energy Union’s goals.

The pipeline will cross exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of multiple countries. Because of that, the UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context should apply to it.

According to the company’s information, the planned pipeline will not cross Latvia’s waters or exclusive economic zone. Still – it could have an impact on Latvia’s environment.

The report on Nord Stream 2 project’s impact on the environment mentions that the Baltic Sea and its environment will not be affected much. It is also mentioned in the report that construction of the pipeline will have minimal impact on living organisms on the seabed. Their life cycle could be affected by short-term temperature change and sand clouds that will be created as a result of construction work.

As part of the construction process, artificial reefs will be created that could prove beneficial for existing organisms.

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