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France attracted by Nabucco19.10.2009 | 23:19
The world media's attention is again focused upon Nabucco gas pipeline, which is to reduce Western Europe's energy dependence on Russia. French company GDF Suez announced its readiness to take part in the project that is considered to be "anti-Russian", Georgia drawing attention to the project as well. GeorgiaTimes' correspondent is talking to the Georgian and Russian experts about the peculiarities of the French energy policy.
France, which is planning to become Russia's partner in its two basic energy and political projects, the Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines, is going to support their rival as well. Holding negotiations on participating in the Nord Stream project, the country has also announced its plans to join the Nabucco pipeline construction project, as newspaper RBK Daily reported at the end of last week.
It was impossible to make clear further information presented by the business media.
Some websites hurriedly reported that by its participation in Nabucco the French GDF Suez "gave Gazprom a slap in the face". It was underlined that GDF Suez is definitely giving up the idea of taking part in Russian project South Stream. At the same time, GDF Suez' joining another large-scale Russia gas project Nord Stream that was much talked about earlier is practically frozen.
Did France indeed prefer Nabucco to the two large-scale Gazprom projects? Besides, Nabucco has always been considered to be not only an energy project but a political project as well. So, does it mean that Paris, which has been actively supporting Moscow's position at the international arena despite occasional criticism, has finally given its preference to Tbilisi?
GeorgiaTimes' correspondent nearly started dialing the experts in search of the answers to these questions when suddenly it became known that France never gave up its participation in the Russian projects; it is just going to be involved in all of them.
Radio station Business FM reported that an agreement on the engagement of Electricite de France in South Stream may be signed in the nearest future. Such opportunity was discussed between EDF Director General and Alexey Miller. The meeting resulted in arranging "a settlement on drawing up a relevant agreement that may be signed in the nearest future".
Will France manage to catch both hares by taking part in competing projects? Or, perhaps, France is again claiming the role of a peace-maker between Moscow and Tbilisi? Surprising as it may seem, the opinions of the Russian and the Georgian experts coincided this time. They showed rare agreement of opinion that such statement as "anti-Russian", as well as such position as "he that is not with us is against us" is an utterly old-fashioned approach.
In his talk with the GeorgiaTimes correspondent, head of Center of Post-Soviet Studies Artem Malgin underlined: "I would refer to neither of the energy projects as to anti-Russian or pro-Russian ones. This is an old-fashioned approach. Even if Russia does not take part in certain projects, part of Russian capital is held by those companies that do. Considering political risks France wants to diversify power economy, which is quite reasonable. Besides, it is not going to give up its participation in the Russian projects, so the politicians should consider the economic realities of the market economy".
As the expert underlined, the Nord Stream project is more real; he reminded that one of the points of Medvedev's planned visit to Sweden is signing the documents on Nord Stream.
As to Nabucco, Malgin points out that Russia is no major player here. The future of the project will be defined by political situation in Iran. "The future of the project is rather sad without Iran, - Malgin underlined, - The situation will depend on the line followed by Akhmadinezhad's government".
Let us remind you that at the end of September, former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder suggested involving Iran in Nabucco project. Later on, Teheran stated that it was ready to take part in the project should the parties agree on the price. The U.S. immediately came out against it. "Iran cannot be considered as a potential gas supplier for Nabucco», - such statement was recently made by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.
The U.S. are standing up for introducing sanctions against Iran. They are also developing a project against Teheran giving the U.S. the right to reduce investments into international corporations, which business is connected with the Iranian energy sector, as RBK reports.
The essence of the problem lies in Iran's nuclear ambitions. The U.S. are suspecting the Iranian government of conducting works on nuclear weapon development. Teheran denies these accusations, saying that its nuclear program is absolutely peaceful. However, this does not satisfy the American authorities, which persuade other countries to take Washington's side.
These issues were raised during the visit of U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton to Moscow. Russia does not support sanctions against Iran. In the opinion of the Russian government, this pressure tool should only be used when all diplomatic means of settling the situation are exhausted.