Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Could Overshadow Merkel’s Farewell Tour Stop In Poland

Polish President Andrzej Duda (left), Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (center), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Right) speak at a summit in Poznan, Poland, in 2019.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold meetings with Polish officials in Warsaw on September 11 as part of a goodbye tour of Europe before she leaves office, but the visit risks being overshadowed by the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Polish President Andrzej Duda will not meet with Merkel during her visit because of a scheduling conflict, a top official in Duda’s office said on September 10. The German government said earlier this month that Merkel and Duda would meet.

Pawel Soloch, the head of the Polish president’s national security office, told Polish radio Duda will be in Katowice for a long-planned visit during Merkel’s time in Warsaw.

The schedule change was announced shortly after Russia said that Nord Stream 2 had been completed. The project has long opposed by Poland, Ukraine, other Eastern European countries, and the United States. Merkel has steadfastly supported the pipeline.

The pipeline — consisting of two parallel lines stretching 1,230 kilometers each under the Baltic Sea — will undermine Europe’s energy security by increasing the European Union’s dependence on Russian natural gas, opponents say.

The pipeline will hurt Ukraine in particular, critics say, because Russian gas exports will be rerouted, depriving Kyiv of as much as $2 billion a year in transit fees.

Soloch said Poland’s relationship with Germany was good "even if Nord Stream 2 is cast on it like a shadow, which weakens trust in bilateral relations."

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told Polish public radio that Nord Stream 2 will be a topic during Merkel’s talks on September 11 with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

They will also discuss the situation on Poland’s border with Belarus. Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have accused Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka of encouraging migrants from the Middle East to cross illegally into the EU countries in retaliation for EU sanctions.

They also will discuss the Polish COVID-19 National Recovery Plan, which has not been approved by Brussels because of concerns over Warsaw’s commitment to the rule of law.

Poland, along with Hungary, is embroiled in a long-running dispute with Brussels over a number of issues, including judicial independence, press freedoms, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

The conflict recently intensified when Brussels took legal action against Warsaw and Budapest. Both have lashed out at the holdup of the stimulus plans as ideologically motivated and unconstitutional.

Merkel’s farewell visit to Warsaw comes two weeks ahead of Germany’s federal elections, which will draw the curtain on her 16 years in power. Her tour will continue next week when she travels to Serbia, Albania, and France.

She is to meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on September 13 before meeting representatives of civil society from a range of Balkan states in the Serbian capital, her spokesman announced on September 10.

Merkel is scheduled to travel to Tirana on September 14 for talks with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama. She will also have discussions in Tirana on regional cooperation with the heads of government of all six countries in the region.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and Deutsche Welle

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