The German-Russian Erdgastrasse Nord Stream 2 is highly controversial and has caused, inter alia, in Germany's eastern neighbors outrage. Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble has now commented - and shown understanding for the position of the critics.
"To have ignored the view of our eastern neighbors, is not one of the highlights of German politics and has destroyed much trust," writes the CDU politician in a guest contribution for the "world". At the same time he warned the opponents: "To sabotage the project in a roundabout way, is still not a sensible solution from a pan-European perspective."
According to previous plans, the approximately 1,200-kilometer-long Baltic Sea pipeline should be operational by the end of the year and then transport up to 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to Germany. The completion of the line, which according to Nord Stream is already relocated to 70 percent, could be delayed, however, because there is still no agreement on the route before Bornholm.
The German government is behind the project and hopes for supply of cheap gas. But the US and some European countries criticize the construction, among other things, because they fear that the German government is too dependent on Russian gas. Only on Monday US Vice President Mike Pence had praised Poland for resisting Nord Stream 2 and criticized Germany.
Earlier this year, US Ambassador Richard Grenell even threatened sanctions over the matter. The United States is a fierce opponent of the project, the Washington government is relying on the export of US LPG by ship to Europe.
The CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had criticized the US action in February. "It's not the best way for partners and friends to threaten each other with sanctions," she told the International Politics magazine.
"The US has its own economic interests, which is legitimate," said the politician. "And they are worried that Germany, as one of the strongest economies in the world, is too dependent on Russia," continued Kramp-Karrenbauer. "But Washington must also hear the German answers: we are diversifying, we have other sources of supply."
"This is not a heart project for me"
For example, new terminals were being built, especially for American LPG. This had been announced by Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier. At least two terminals are to be built in northern Germany, with the Brunsbüttel, Stade and Wilhelmshaven locations being discussed.
"Nord Stream 2 is for me as others certainly not a heart project," said the CDU chief. In their view, however, the completion is unstoppable. "There are contracts, there are permits, and I do not believe in a policy that powerfully explains to the public what to do now, even though it knows exactly what the contract is for."
At the same time, Kramp-Karrenbauer confessed to the existing EU economic sanctions against Russia, which had been imposed because of Moscow's actions against Ukraine. The Russian government is cracking down in its own country, driving disinformation campaigns in the West and depriving other peoples of the right to self-determination, as the conflicts in Georgia and eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimea have shown.
Video: How the Chancellor pushed through the project
An alternative to sanctions would not be their critics. "They do not think you have to accept Russia's violations of international law, nor do you have an idea for other sanctions, and as we rule out any military intervention, I agree that sanctions should be upheld as long as nothing smarter comes to mind."
In February, the EU member states and the European Commission agreed on a compromise on Nordstream 2. This should also be the open dispute over the pipeline between Germany and France for the time being ended.