Problems in the pipeline for Prague over Nord Stream II
The Czech Republic appears to have got itself in hot water after the government refused to back a letter from seven Central European countries attacking a German-Russian project for a new gas pipeline. The Nord Stream II link under the Baltic would bypass both Ukraine and make Slovakia a backwater for gas transport.
Bratislava signed up the Baltic States, Ukraine, as well as Poland and Hungary to its strong protest letter to Brussels that such a link would damage European energy security. On the financial front, Slovakia would could likely lose out on hundreds of millions of euros in gas transport fees if its main pipeline instead of being a gas highway turns into a dead end.
Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek, who tried to win support for the letter drafted by his Slovak counterpart, explained what happened at the government meeting this week.
“We would [have] preferred a softer wording of the letter. Unfortunately, we were put in the position of either sign or not and I was not able to collect sufficient votes of the government members to support this letter of Mr. [Vazil] Hudák.”
The Czech minister says Prague is broadly in sympathy with Slovakia and the other countries but the matter is not quite so clear cut:
But there is also admission in private that the Czech Republic does not want to risk a further deterioration of relations with Germany. These have already been soured by differences over the immigrant crisis and a conflict over such a strategic and high priced project could be risky. Minister Mládek was due to speak to his Slovak counterpart on Friday to patch up relations.