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Glos: EU blackmailed by Turkey over pipeline

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Glos: EU blackmailed by Turkey over pipeline
Photo: DPA
14:31 CET+01:00
Turkey is blackmailing the European Union over the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline, which would bypass Russia by bringing Caspian Sea gas to Europe, German Economy Minister Michael Glos said on Tuesday.

Ankara is engaged in "political blackmail," Glos said at an energy forum here, calling on Turkey to stop using the pipeline as leverage to boost its bid for EU membership.

Diversifying the supply of gas away from Russia has become a priority for the EU in the wake of a recent spat between Russia and Ukraine that left millions of Europeans without heating in the middle of a winter cold snap.

The proposed 3,300-kilometre (2,050-mile) Nabucco pipeline would see Russia bypassed by carrying supplies from the Caspian Sea or Middle East via Turkey to Austria. But Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Monday to

"review our position" on Nabucco if its bid to join the EU were thwarted.

Some EU nations firmly oppose the idea of Turkey, a mainly Muslim country of 70 million, joining the bloc amid misgivings among voters. France favours a special relationship that stops short of full membership.

Although Berlin officially accepts the start of accession talks, senior members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives - including Glos - have expressed misgivings.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, receives more Russian gas than any other European country and relies on Moscow for almost 40 percent of its imports, which come through either Ukraine or Belarus.

German and Russian firms are also working on bypassing both these countries with the Nord Stream pipeline, scheduled to bring 55 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea straight to Germany by 2012.

Glos also hailed Monday's breakthrough in the Russia-Ukraine row, saying: "I am delighted by the announcement that deliveries will be restarted." Nevertheless, he added, "at the moment, the gas has not yet arrived."

EON Ruhgas and RWE, Germany's two biggest gas importers, both said on Tuesday that it would take around three days until gas imports reach their normal level.

Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz said earlier Tuesday that gas transported through Ukraine from Russia would reach European consumers within 36 hours.

Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemliansky told AFP "the maximum delay is 36 hours and we will try to reduce that."

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