Diplomats confirmed today (18 March) that Germany opposes funding the Nabucco gas pipeline from a five-billion euro EU stimulus plan, which includes a controversial list of energy projects (EurActiv 17 March 2009).
The Russian press hailed the development as a "victory for Russia" as Nabucco is widely perceived there as an US-inspired project hostile to Russian interests. "The EU has taken Nabucco off its priority list. In other terms, this means that the EU in fact supported the construction, in cooperation with Russia, of the projects 'South Stream"' and 'Nord Stream'," the daily Izvestiya wrote today.
South Stream, a Gazprom-favoured alternative to Nabucco, would bring Russian gas to Italy under the Black Sea via Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Croatia. A branch of the pipeline would run through Serbia and Hungary to Austria, ending at the Baumgarten gas storage facility, the same hub that Nabucco plans to use.
But Poland took the lead in trying to make Germany change its mind. As the Polish daily Dziennik reported, the country's Prime Minister Donald Tusk will attempt to convince EU leaders not to abandon Nabucco.
"We have requested that this project be financed from a special fund of €5 billion," Polish European Affairs Minister Mikołaj Dowgielewicz is quoted as saying. The Polish request was supported by Romania, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia, Dziennik adds.
Before the last extraordinary EU summit on 1 March, Tusk organised a mini-summit with his Eastern European counterparts. At this stage, the Polish Permanent Representation has received no instructions to organise a similar meeting, a spokesperson told EurActiv.
Turkey ready to build Nabucco
Asked to comment on the news coming from Brussels, Turkey's Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said his country is determined to build and even finance Nabucco.
"Our aim is to complete this project. No matter where the resources are, the necessary requirements should be fulfilled if such a project is needed. I believe we will complete the project either with our own resources or with the help of others," said Guler, quoted by the daily Hurriyet.