Supporters Stress Pragmatism in Nord Stream Debate
Eestlased Eestis 03 Sep 2012  EWR
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Ott Tammik, ERR News 03.09.2012
Backers of Nord Stream's interest in studying Estonia's territorial waters are calling for the government to stay rational.

Employers' Confederation Chairman Enn Veskimägi said that care still needs to be taken with regard to the environmental impact of submarine gas pipelines. But the political decision has already been made at the European level, he said, as two gas pipelines already lie on the Baltic seabed.

"It is important to avoid the mistakes that were made last time Nord Stream applied for permission to conduct surveys. In that case, things got overly emotional and it wasn't possible to give rational arguments,” Veskimägi told uudised.err.ee.

The gas pipeline would be beneficial for Estonia, he continued. “A gas pipeline partially passing through Estonian waters will make the project significantly cheaper for European Union countries and will at the same time bring Estonia economic gains. It will create jobs and they will use our ports,” said Veskimägi.

Representing the opposition Social Democratic Party, MP Urve Palo also supported granting permission for Nord Stream surveys. Palo warned against politicization and called for a more sober attitude toward Russia in general.

“Like it or not, Russia is and will continue to be our neighbor,” Palo said in an Äripäev opinion article.

Palo pointed to the relatively small share of Estonian exports that get sent to Russia - 10 percent. She said there has been reluctance to increase trade with Russia due to security reasons, but that she has heard no logical argument for why that figure should be the cutoff, Finland having set there exports with Russia at 30 percent.

Nord Stream approached the Estonian government last month, expressing an interest for potentially laying two additional pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

The government, which rejected a similar request in 2007, said it will not take a stance yet because Nord Stream's appeal was “preliminary.” But the head of one coalition partner said he could not currently see any arguments for changing the previous standpoint.

Although fears of environmental disasters and gas supply cuts have not materialized with the existing pipelines, a key argument against the project is Russia's pledge to use military ships to defend its pipeline if necessary, Mart Laar, a high level MP, said last week.
 
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