Strained relations with Moscow over the
recent conflict in Georgia will not affect the construction of a gas pipeline
under the Baltic Sea to provide Russian gas directly to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, dpa
reported. Speaking during a visit to Stockholm for talks with Prime Minister
Fredrik Reinfeldt, Merkel said the approval process would be carried out in all
the countries affected and brought to a conclusion.
"The pipeline is a strategic European project," Merkel said.
Sweden and other Baltic states have raised energy security and environmental concerns over the pipeline, which is to run from Vyborg on Portovaya Bay in Russia to Greifswald in eastern Germany.
Poland, in particular, has expressed deep concern that it is being bypassed by the pipeline. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also expressed energy security concerns, while environmental concerns have been raised in Sweden.
Construction has begun on the overland Russian section of the pipeline, but has yet to begin on the section under the Baltic that will be longer than 1,000 kilometres.
The first gas is scheduled to be delivered in 2011.