A wolf in sheep’s clothing: the environmental foundation of Manuela Schwesig promotes Nord Stream 2 at the expense of Germany

Tony Williams
4 min readJan 27, 2021

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In early January, the Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Manuela Schwesig announced the state foundation Klima- und Umweltschutz MV to be established — with its primary purpose rooted in the environmental protection. Many experts have already mentioned that 99 percent of the foundation’s statute is dedicated to climate and ecosystem protection. However, 99 percent of the money will come directly from Nord Stream 2 AG, not from the German national budget. The company is engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea and its 51% stake is owned by Russian state Gazprom company.

Manuela Schwesig is trying to reassure the public that the pipeline is not totally Russian project, but instead serves the interests of Western Europe as a whole in its quest for energy transformation and climate neutrality. The Minister’s scheme goes up in smoke as leading environmental associations — interested in this energy transformation, such as WWF Germany, Bund and Nabu — have refused to be involved in the activity of the foundation. Yet, environmental organisations were supposed to hold two seats on the board of trustees. Nabu and WWF Germany have jointly criticised the foundation as being inconsistent with its stated aims: “With taxpayers money under the guise of environmental protection, obligations of climate protection are undermined and the climate crisis is further fueled,” was claimed in a joint statement. Meanwhile, the leader of the German Green Party Annalena Baerbock holds the same opinion. The sole purpose of the foundation, she says, was to complete the Baltic Sea gas pipeline.

Not the environmentalists, but the Russian state company Gazprom will have the right to pass decisions regarding the staff of the foundation. For instance, the draft of the statute reads that the first expert manager will be appointed by the board of trustees for a three-year term on the proposal of specifically Nord Stream 2 AG.

Manuela Schwesig hypocritically declares that the gas pipeline will serve as a kind of tool for Germany in its transition to green energy. Unable to hide the fact that the sole purpose of the foundation is financing the construction of Russian gas pipeline, Schwesig goes from one extreme to the other and claims that Nord Stream 2 implies to achieve green energy. The environmentalists have caught Manuela Schwesig lying: the pipeline will only delay the rapid transition to renewables and will make Western Europe dependent on Russian natural resources.

The members of the Green Party are outraged at “cynical, misleading and arrogant” statement of the Minister Manuela Schwesig. In German political establishment there is a feeling that the Minister’s position on Nord Stream 2 project, harmful to the environment, should be discussed at federal level, or, even better, at the EU level.

The project did not get the green light from the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas either. He made it clear that the Klima- und Umweltschutz MV foundation, established by the government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, will be sheltered neither the politician himself, nor by other members of the federal government. “This decision was made in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,” said Heiko Maas. “The foundation is not a decision of the federal government.”

A deputy parliamentary leader of liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, in an interview with German public radio station Deutschlandfunk, commented on the foundation and its connection to Nord Stream 2. He said that the diplomatic implementation of the pipeline had been a real “disaster” for years. A number of countries were opposite to the project, including Poland, the Baltic States, Scandinavia and the US. Given this fact, Germany found itself almost completely isolated on the issue. “And if you talk to people in Brussels,” says Lambsdorff, “they will tell you that German policy here is essentially a reckless solo effort at the expense and against the will of all the other European partners.” It coincides with Russia’s goals. Cooperation, as presented by Manuela Schwesig, harms the image of Germany, the politician believes.

In other words, the Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has been caught lobbying political interests of a foreign state. And this is not surprising. In 2018, Manuela Schwesig was invited to German-Russian forum, held in Moscow, where she gave a sentimental speech regarding the existing Russian-German “cooperation” and the necessity of strengthening ties between these countries. Being committed to such a “friendship”, between Germany and Russia, Schwesig repeatedly criticises EU sanctions imposed on Russia for the occupation of Crimea.

The “cooperation”, as presented by Mrs Schwesig, threatens to sever diplomatic relations and business partnership between Germany and the West. Experts share the one opinion that Manuela Schwesig has taken a politically incorrect step when she announced the establishment of the dubious (to say the least) foundation just before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Earlier, Donald Trump’s administration had imposed sanctions on contractors involved in the Nord Stream 2 construction, with the Russian pipelaying vessel Fortuna and its owner company KVT-Rus been sanctioned on the 19th of January. With Joe Biden in Oval Office, the politics of the US on Nord Stream 2 will remain unchanged, and therefore the decision of Manuela Schwesig to establish the foundation indicates mistrust and reluctance to hold a dialogue.

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Tony Williams