Georgia crisis demands Baltic gas link rethink

BERLIN (Reuters) – The conflict between Georgia and Russia requires a rethink of a planned pipeline which will pump Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a German newspaper on Saturday.

European countries should not boost their dependence on Russia with projects of this sort, the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung reported Tusk as saying.

“We should set the course to expand alternative energy sources. Then Russia will be unable to exert its influence,” the paper quoted Tusk as saying in extracts of an interview released before publication.

The Nord Stream pipeline, which will bypass Poland, is a joint venture involving Russia’s Gazprom, Germany’s E.ON and BASF.

Poland, Lithuania and Estonia are angry at being left out of the gas supply route to open in 2011.

The Russian dispute with Georgia over South Ossetia has heightened concern in several European countries about an overdependence on Russian energy.

Tusk told the newspaper it was “absolutely necessary” for the EU as a whole to work on securing energy supply and criticized unilateral action from individual states.

“Europeans should ask themselves how they can become at least partially independent of Russian gas and oil,” Tusk told the newspaper.

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