Biden, Merkel agree Russia can’t use Nord Stream pipeline as a weapon
U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on July 15, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Pictures
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Thursday that they will oppose any Russian effort to use the controversial Nord Stream pipeline as a weapon against neighboring countries like Ukraine.
The completion of Nord Stream 2, an $ 11 billion gas pipeline that would lead directly to Germany from Russia under the Baltic Sea, has long been a source of tension between Washington and Berlin, also close NATO allies .
“While I reiterated my concerns about Nord Stream 2, Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our belief that Russia should not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors,” said Biden said.
âMy take on Nord Stream 2 has been known for some time. Good friends may disagree, but by the time I became president it was 90% finished and imposing sanctions didn’t seem to have happened. makes sense, âhe said.
The president lifted sanctions against Swiss company Nord Stream 2 AG, which manages the pipeline project, and its German CEO in May. Nord Stream 2 AG is owned by the Russian public energy company Gazprom.
Biden opposed the completion of the pipeline, fearing it would allow Moscow to have increased political influence over other European countries and better control over energy reserves.
In particular, the United States is concerned that the pipeline threatens Ukraine’s security and economy by depriving it of essential gas transportation revenues.
The route of a new gas pipeline proposed between Russia and Europe.
Merkel backed the pipeline, but stressed on Thursday that Nord Stream would not replace Ukraine’s transit pipelines for natural gas.
“Our idea is and remains that Ukraine remains a transit country for natural gas, that Ukraine, like any other country in the world, has the right to territorial sovereignty,” Merkel said at the press conference joint.
“We will act actively if Russia does not respect this right of Ukraine which it has as a transit country,” Merkel said.
Biden said he and Merkel had asked their teams to consider practical steps that can be taken to determine whether Europe’s energy security is “enhanced or weakened on the basis of Russian actions.”
The two leaders also announced a climate and energy partnership, which Biden says will support energy security and sustainable energy development in emerging economies in Central Europe and Ukraine.
Biden and Merkel also signed a pact, called the Washington Declaration, which reaffirms the commitment of the United States and Germany to democratic principles and outlines a common vision for addressing global issues guided by those values.
âOur two nations understand the imperative to prove that democracies can meet the needs of our people in the second quarter of the 21st century,â Biden said.
Other issues discussed by the two leaders included China, security concerns in Afghanistan and the fight against Covid-19.
Merkel’s visit stands in stark contrast to former President Donald Trump’s notorious clashes with her during her tenure, which contributed to the deterioration of relations between the two nations.
Trump publicly called on Merkel for failing to meet the 2% of GDP spending target set at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, saying Germany owed “huge sums of money” in the USA. Trump also hammered Merkel on trade and decided to withdraw nearly 12,000 US troops from Germany.
In response, Merkel has often rebuffed Trump’s rhetoric and criticized political decisions such as his travel ban targeting citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries.
Biden has made repairing relations with Germany and other European countries a priority. Merkel is the first European leader to meet Biden at the White House, and her visit serves as a final farewell to the United States as she nears the end of a historic political career that has spanned nearly 16 years.
Merkel’s visit will end with a dinner hosted by the President and First Lady Jill Biden in the State Dining Room. The dinner will be attended by Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Dough Emhoff and others who strengthen Germany’s relationship with the United States.
âI know that the partnership between Germany and the United States will continue to grow stronger on the foundations you have helped build,â Biden told Merkel.
âBut on a personal note, I have to tell you that I will miss you at our summit, really. Thank you again for making the trip, for a productive meeting today and for your friendship,â he said. .