German politician in hot seat over controversial gas pipeline support

AFP - [email protected] • 19 Apr, 2022 Updated Tue 19 Apr 2022 15:38 CEST
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Manuela Schwesig (SPD), state premier of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

German regional premier Manuela Schwesig was on Tuesday battling mounting pressure over her support for the now-halted Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.


Critics have accused her of being a Russian "stooge" as for years, Schwesig was among prominent supporters of the pipeline, highlighting the jobs and investment it would bring.

Nord Stream 2 was set to double Russian gas deliveries to Germany via its northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where Schwesig is the premier.

But in February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz scrapped the project in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

"The entanglement between (Schwesig's) state government and the Russian state-owned corporation Gazprom has always been disastrous and must now finally be dealt with," Green party co-leader Omid Nouripour told the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.


The decision to scrap the project was welcomed by Western allies, who had long warned Germany that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the pipeline as a geopolitical weapon.

Schwesig herself has since said it was "a mistake" to continue backing the project despite growing unease with Putin's motives.

But that admission has done little to quiet critics, who have slammed Schwesig for her perceived Moscow-friendly business stance. Her ties to former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is himself under fire for his Russian gas lobbying, have also come under scrutiny.

German media have also raised questions about Schwesig's role in helping to set up a "Climate Foundation" whose aim, they allege, was to shield companies involved in building Nord Stream 2 from US sanctions.

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Opposition politicians from the centre-right CDU party have said Schwesig should step down.

The ecologist Greens, who are part of Scholz's coalition government, have called for an inquiry into Schwesig's role in championing the pipeline.

"How the government in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania made itself a stooge of Nord Stream 2... urgently needs to be clarified," Green MP Anton Hofreiter said.

A parliamentary inquiry is "absolutely necessary", he added.

A spokesman for Schwesig has dismissed the accusations, telling Der Spiegel weekly it was "absurd" to paint the regional prime minister as close to the Kremlin, and that Nord Stream 2 had also been supported by the federal government in Berlin.




AFP 2022/04/19 15:38

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