Grigory Pasko: Nord Stream, Scandinavian Style

An announcement: In case you’ve been wondering what’s happened to our correspondent Grigory Pasko, he’s spent the past two weeks on assignment, filming and doing interviews in four countries – Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark – in an attempt to get a grasp on what is going on with the project for the construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. I had a chance to catch up with Grigory in Berlin last week, where he told me that the project seems to have “frozen up” like a complicated computer. But here, why don’t I let him tell you in his own words? – Robert Amsterdam Grig-Baltika042808Nord Stream, Scandinavian Style By Grigory Pasko, journalist Yes indeed, I can’t help but get the impression that despite all the bold declarations by representatives of the company Nord Stream, the project is starting to lose traction and spin its wheels, as it were. And this because of the position of certain Scandinavian countries. For example, because of Sweden’s position. The irony of Clio, the goddess of history, is that both the German city of Greifswald, where the undersea pipeline will end, and the Russian city of Vyborg, where it will start, were both Swedish cities in their day. (Photo: The author and the sea – in Visby, Gotland. By Rolf Jonsson)

What we know is that at the beginning of the year, the company Nord Stream presented the Swedish government with an Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA). The government studied the report and, in accordance with the Espoo Convention, returned it along with its comments for further work. One of these comments is to look at an alternative routing – that is, on land. Nord Stream’s reaction was, as it seems to me, overly emotional. For example, the company’s Technical Director, Dirk von Ameln, said that asking Nord Stream to work out a land routing was the same as demanding that a businessman who wants to open an automobile dealership in Stockholm should file an application for a bicycle shop in Malmö.finn-more042808The Gulf of Finland near Helsinki (photo by Grigory Pasko)This, by the way, is not the first time that the participants in Nord Stream have reacted so strongly to someone’s opinion about the problematic aspects of the project. Back when the company was planning to build a service platform near the Swedish island of Gotland (it has since announced that a platform is no longer necessary, thanks to modern technology that apparently didn’t exist several months ago), the Swedish military expressed concern that the Russians would start spying with its help. The deputy chairman of the management board of the company «Gazprom» – the principal shareholder in the project – Alexander Medvedev reacted like this: he proposed offering the Swedish military the platform for the conducting of discotheques there.My interpreter and I spent time in the Scandinavian countries and met with a score of politicians, technical experts, scholars, environmentalists, representatives of the authorities, fishermen, and ordinary people who are not indifferent to the project…Readers will have a chance to hear their views, as well as a current analysis of the events surrounding the pipeline, in my next series of articles, dedicated to one of the most controversial projects in the world today – the construction of a gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea.