A few days after we published articles on the misinformation in defence of Nord Stream 2, it turned out that the EU states did not make a demarche against U.S. sanctions against the project. The opinions remain split and Russia’s allies in Europe are trying to defend the investment with EU tools – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief at BiznesAlert.pl.
Misinformation that was
In my piece on Nord Stream 2 from 24 of August, I wrote that Germany and other supporters of the pipeline may want to use EU tools to defend it against U.S. sanctions, which may threaten the whole project. In the opinion of Germany’s Uniper they can actually stop it. I was commenting on Politico’s reporting, which claimed that 24 out of the 27 EU states allegedly voiced their opposition to the sanctions and supported the pipeline, as part of the so-called demarche.
This interpretation of events was undermined by Polish and Estonian ambassadors to the U.S. on Twitter. While they did confirm that a meeting of EU ambassadors to the U.S. took place, during which facts on the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 were presented, they denied Polico’s demarche story. “Last week´s videoconference was not a demarche on behalf of the 24 participating countries,” Jonatan Vseviov, Estonia’s ambassador, stressed. Despite that Western media reported after Die Welt that 24 out of the 27 EU states were against blocking Nord Stream 2, and thus, promoted this over-interpretation benefiting the contentious project.
A demarche that wasn’t
Diplomats from Austria and Germany argued that during the ambassadors’ call, the so-called demarche (Fr. – political initiative) did occur and that 24 EU members took part in it. It looks like this claim became the basis of the unfortunate article in Politico. However, the opposing view on the matter expressed by Estonia and Poland forced EU officials to react. Nabila Massrali, the EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, commented on the matter for Politico. This is the best EU institution to speak on the issue, as it represents all EU member states.
“Demarches are a formal diplomatic tool that, at EU level, must be agreed beforehand by all EU member states,” Massrali explained. “The outreach by the EU delegation was always intended as outreach, never as a demarche,” she added.
This official statement says it all. The information meeting about U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 was presented by Austrian and German diplomats as an EU initiative aimed at supporting the contentious project. Such an interpretation of the event is fake news that benefits Nord Stream 2, just days before its Dutch section is completed.
In reality Nord Stream 2 has driven a wedge between EU states and so has the issue of the American intervention. “We’re not pushing for sanctions. We’re opposing Nord Stream. That is an important distinction,” Vseviov clarified for Politico. I have already written in my previous articles that Europeans take issue with U.S.’s unilateral policy, as it may hurt their companies. However, it also needs to be said that many EU states have a problem with NS2, which is a bilateral initiative between Russia and other states engaged in the project, such as Austria and Germany. Those countries are pushing it against EU interests and are not shying away from using misinformation, such as in the example I have discussed here, in doing so.
Why do we need this problem?
It is in Europe’s interest to stop Nord Stream 2, so that at least one problem is crossed out from the long list of issues that are dividing the Transatlantic parters and make Russia happy.