• Germany's news in English

German love of Russian gas 'limits' EU power

AFP/The Local · 10 Mar 2014, 12:20

Published: 10 Mar 2014 08:05 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2014 12:20 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Germany's reliance on Russian gas can effectively limit European sovereignty. I have no doubt," Tusk told reporters days ahead of a Warsaw visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Around a quarter of Russia's natural gas exports head to Germany and the country is also Russia's biggest oil market.

The top European economy buys around one third of its oil and gas from Russia and has extensive trade and investment links with the vast country to the east.

Germany has tried to defuse the Western standoff with Moscow over Ukraine, but analysts say its voice is muted by fears of endangering its economic ties with Russia.

"The Ukraine issue is a matter of the future security of the European Union," Tusk said on a visit to a military base in northern Poland to mark 15 years since his ex-communist nation joined the NATO defence alliance.

The 28-member EU needs to review its energy policy, he added, ahead of Merkel's Wednesday visit.

"I'll be speaking very openly with Merkel, making it clear that the existing climate and natural gas policies risk posing a threat to the security and sovereignty of Europe as a whole," he said.

"I'll present our views on the political threats tied to dependence on Russian gas and money," Tusk said.

"This, of course, applies not just to Germany, but in recent years Germany has been a strong example of this phenomenon," he added.

Tusk said talks with Merkel would also focus on "how Germany could revise certain economic decisions, to avoid the paralysis of Europe at a time when it must act quickly and adopt a clear stance".

Washington on Friday played down the risk posed to the European economy by Russia's threat to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, insisting the region had adequate stocks.

'Crimea poll illegal'

Tusk's comments come a day after Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday she believed the referendum being held in Crimea this month on joining Russia was "illegal".

"The chancellor asserted the German position forcefully that the so-called March 16th referendum on Crimea is illegal. It is against the Ukrainian constitution and international law," her spokesman Steffen Seibert said, recounting a phone call between the two leaders.

In a strongly-worded message, Merkel also said that she "deplored the lack of progress that has been made in forming an international contact group to help find a political path and a solution to resolve the conflict in Ukraine".

Seibert added that the Chancellor had stressed the urgent need to find a solution to the crisis. 

Merkel also discussed the Ukraine situation during a telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Story continues below…

According to Seibert, Xi said he was favourable to finding a political solution "through dialogue".

"He emphasized that an end to the crisis should be based on international law," he said.

A statement released by Moscow after Merkel's conversation with Putin - and a subsequent conversation the Russian leader had with the British Prime Minister David Cameron - asserted the Kremlin's position that the pro-Russian forces in Crimea were "legitimate".

Putin wished in particular to stress that "the lawful leadership in Crimea is taking actions based on international law and with the aim of guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the population of the peninsula," Moscow said.

A referendum will be held in Crimea on March 16th to see if the southern Ukrainian region wants to immediately become part of the Russian Federation.

SEE ALSO: Third of Germans expect Ukraine-Russia war

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd