Poles angry at pipeline pact

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The Independent Online

A German-Russian pipeline deal was compared to the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939, as Poland's hardline, nationalist, government mounted a fierce verbal assault on its two larger neighbours.

The Polish Defence Minister, Radek Sikorski, hit out at the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday for refusing to reverse plans for the project which were agreed by her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. The pipeline will cut through the Baltic Sea and so bypass Polish territory.

The issue was raised with Ms Merkel by the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, during a recent visit to Germany, Mr Sikorski said at a conference organised by the German Marshall Fund on transatlantic relations. "We asked. She refused," he said.

"Poland has a particular sensitivity to corridors and deals above our head," Mr Sikorski added. "That was the Molotov-Ribbentrop tradition. That was the 20th century. We don't want any repetition of that."

He was referring to the pact between the Russian and German foreign ministers Molotov and Ribbentrop in 1939 which allowed Poland to be carved up by Stalin and Hitler.

Germany's attitude today undermined European solidarity, Mr Sikorski said. The project was a bad deal for consumers, he added, since it would cost $6m more than one built through Poland. "The Russian ambassador to Belarus said last week when the Baltic pipeline is built, Gazprom will be able to cut off Belarus without cutting off Germany. That means Poland too."