Thursday, September 20, 2007

Steinbock House to Nord Stream: Stick That In Your Pipe and Smoke It

(UPD: Apologies for the bleeding obvious pun.)

So, the government has denied permission to Nord Stream AG to conduct exploration of the Baltic seabed, which was a prerequisite for laying down the Russian-German gas pipe. The official excuse is that such work would uncover information about the natural resources in Estonian economic and territorial waters, and the feasibility of their usage. As the government doesn't want that information public, the exploration is not allowed.

This was somewhat predictable. Ahead of today's decision, Reform was the only party saying it might be a good idea to let them dig - it seems that the whips are finally waking up to the idea that Ansip's bid to politicize the party's image is not in its best interests, long-term. IRL was decidedly against the permission, so were the Greens (obviously), and the Social Democrats seemed to have no obvious preference.

It's still a bit too early to tell what this decision means for the pipe - I'll report once something interesting comes up - but there's a significant point here for internal politics. Ever since the April riots, IRL has been on the sideline, mostly letting Ansip's gang take the heat (with the exception of Defense Minister Aaviksoo, whose domain was directly responsible for the monument). But this vote was the first time in recent memory when Estonia had an opportunity to actually poke the Kremlin in a way that would properly hurt - and neither Berlin nor Brussels could do anything about it.
Yesterday, Postimees published excerpts from reports by Finnish government agencies, saying that the pipework would disturb the silt that had absorbed lots of highly toxic stuff over the years (the Baltic is really an extremely dirty sea), and the construction is likely to result in massive environmental damage. This alone was an unassailable excuse for Estonia to deny permission, but even that was not necessary.
And the loudest voice was that of Mart Laar, who heads the IRL party, but has no position in the government. He's now seen as the driving force behind this jab at Putin, an active bit of foreign policy, and so far, a resounding success.

I keep saying he's in line for the PM job, and this only makes it that much more likely.

1 comment:

Giustino said...

Didn't Edgar also come out against this?

Do you buy the Laar partners with Savikas, facilitates Ansip's downfall, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Andrus, concept?

I do feel that Ansip is a bit like Tony Blair post-Iraq War invasion. Ie. he can stay in office for no matter how long, but the honeymoon (if there ever was one) is long over.

AND, why are the Sotsid so not front and center here? Not worth their time/political capital?

Tell us, oh Flasher T.


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