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tv   To the Point  Deutsche Welle  August 14, 2020 1:30pm-2:01pm CEST

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it will soon be nice to be. discovered. subscribe to the documentary on you tube. the. tensions are running worryingly high between germany and the united states the bone of contention is a gas pipeline joining germany and russia that is nearing completion the americans call it under into putin and are frightening crushing sanctions if the project is not stopped so long to the point we asked u.s. sanctions against germany how dangerous is an old string to.
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work thanks very much on joining me here on to the point coming to you from berlin and my guests here in the studio are kirsten vest far from the german institute for international and security affairs who says north stream too has serious political implications but the collateral damage of u.s. sanctions is far reaching also with us is michelle's 2 month foreign policy expert with the berlin base we can eat in sight he argues that europe's quarrel on nordstrom 2 is the biggest failure in german foreign policy in more than a 101 welcome to to eric also a journalist who writes for the los angeles times and eric believes that the u.s. and many other countries have long warned germany about the perils of north stream to. so his warnings were however. ignored thank you very once again for being here
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in berlin today with me because then i would like to begin with you as an energy expert to tell us what makes north stream to so important and so very controversial . i thought i would say the political. the political context attached to it at the end of the day it's an economic pressure checked with with an economic basis linking the big the russian produced so with it's made to market in europe but of course it has the project has high political implications and this has been used by many as this is a symbol saying very cares for him for a long time this story has been sort of on the backburner now it appears to be boiling over why what's going on well in germany has been on the back burner germany's been ignoring this for a long time president obama warned about this trump warned about it congress has
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been talking about this is not just an economic approach and not whether to go to germany to make a current economic that's called that but it's obviously a political project when the west has sanctions against ukraine's and russia since the ukraine problem 2014 so it is a political issue germany can call it what it wants but it's not just germany versus us it's also ukraine and against germany it's a lot of eastern europeans poland is upset about this france was upset about this it's basically a project to shaft the ukraine and keep all the oil gas going away from ukraine so germany has just been ignoring the complaints and the noise out there for 5 or 6 years now and then nobody should be surprised that it's coming to a boil now this was this is an accident waiting to happen and they should have known it's going to come coming to a boil 3 u.s. sentences have told german citizens and others to quote see sent to vittie supporting the construction of the pipeline will face potential. fatal measures
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that is very aggressive language these are 3 senators from gas producing area so it's very aggressive language to an ally absolutely these are senators these are only senators so i don't think you need to get too worked up about that but congress was a very strong majority in voting for these sanctions so the germans are making a mistake to think it's only trump versus germany and trump maybe gone no trump maybe gone but the next president is going is probably going to be singing the same tune shows to much the german side have been saying they've been talking about this is that these comments or the letter from the senator as neo imperialist a declaration of economic war it's not all whole terrible it's not meant seriously no i think there's of course neo imperialism is very symbolically laden word but i think there's cons census and merging in the german elite. directed against the kind of what they see as an american intervention into ference in german sovereign affairs i think both this pipeline has been
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german foreign foreign policy failure and so far as many was not able to unite europe but on the other hand it has opened read it has opened the floor for donald trump to attack me on that and what i see now is that this bipartisan approach in america is a failure from the american side to understand what's happening in germany and that they're actually weakening those who are criticizing the pipeline within germany and lots of people who criticize this pipeline including me. because then can you just explain for us because it will be difficult for some to grasp what basis can free congress men from the united states insist that something happens or doesn't happen in a german port. well. basically the nature of off extraterritorial sanctions applying u.s.
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law to to to another state and this is exactly why this is. the response in germany the reaction is. so huge because this is very d.c.m.s. and attempts who were into suffering in the face and at the end of the day it's also is certainly undermining regulatory affairs it is illegal ross is it legal or illegal i'm not a lawyer but my understanding is that this is going much too far both in legal terms but also in political terms because in germany the background and the reading is that there is a sanction in this letter but there is a wider range of sanctions and it's not it's no longer clear with all the list of sanctions coming out of the us what are the motivations behind and what is really that the context rallies they should or are even also the the conditions behind all
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the to lift so this is something and then it is really seen as part of geo economic driver playing out with and then i. just wonder i mean one leading commentary here in germany said nobody likes to be blackmailed and the suggestion is that the germans are going to push back will the americans be worried. i don't know i mean the united states is trying to keep the sanctions up against russia russia depends heavily on these gas exports the russian treasury gets a lot of money from germany from these gas exports and the united states as mentioned is interested in selling liquefied natural gas to europe a lot of americans why ask themselves why are we spending so much money on defense of europe when when germany goes and spends billions of dollars a year on a natural gas from from germany from from russia so all these things come into play time the accusation to show that to germany is making itself
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a hostage of russia that it is most cosmas see that this is a russian trojan horse and also a greek trojan holes well see there was the pipeline old stream 115 years ago when this pipeline was built my major criticism was that germany might become dependent on russian gas since then more then when t. time in knowledge for liquid to fight natural gas have been build in europe they are up in t. off opportunities to get gas from all directions this pipeline is not dangerous in so far as we need this guy as no we don't need it it is in additional off so and that is why i think it's simply beyond the point in missing the point that this is a politically explosive project but economically if you have the pipeline there wouldn't be a major problem not even for ukraine which has just concluded its treaty with russia
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on the continuation of gas deliveries. until 2024 and you can be sure that they would be an additional that would be an additional agreement after that sounds so rushnell bit of the same time you are arguing in the statement we had at the top of the show that this is the greatest failure in german foreign policy. in the last 10 yes indeed because as i said germany didn't manage to bring europe together it didn't manage to integrate the baltic states the critics of the pipeline and it pushed through and i think this is 1st and foremost something which happened in the aftermath of the refugee crisis in 2015 when nobody in germany paid attention to what the then economy minister gabriele did who was a close friend of but it was a governor who pushed forward this project and this has been overlooked. and
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despite the criticism in initially from many observers including eric in clued in others including me so i think this is this is something which falls now back on to all feed after 5 years that surprises me all the time germany always acts like the big european in europe. but they're ignoring eastern europe and they've been ignoring eastern europe for years and this crane poland lithuania latvia these countries that know russia well and said don't do this but germany just went ahead and did it anyway i mean that surprises me is that i think there was a certain misreading going in that the failure point and i think the misreading was that germany itself the self perception was that germany was clearly pursuing a dual strategy of containment russia plus culpa gratian so basically the old pattern of the cold war and containment it's just it's clear because germany in
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that kind has been instrumented to keep up the consensus on e.u. sanctions so this was kind of. being the background and wife carolyn thought the others would accept within the package of call peroration this and all that stream to a pipeline which was also giving germany a certain leverage the said the kremlin and i think i'm misreading the ban was they've dynamics inside. the you to go for an energy union and to really drive this and to a certain extent you know it all the. rhetoric from berlin around it's an economic project the legal and regulatory background was somehow based on the status quo in 2015 and what was ignored was this big push in the e.u. to change the regulatory approach to change to deal with russia a common view and indeed later on it was not chief to have the consensus but i think to me this where the maid to them is readings on the job is going to have to
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talk about russia's role in all this in just a minute let's start 1st of all though a closer look at the pipeline that is the focus of these rising tensions between the u.s. and germany. nord stream 2 is an ambitious european russian energy project once completed the pipeline costing billions of euros will transport gas from russia through the baltic sea to germany and it runs largely parallel to the existing pipeline after u.s. sanction announcements in december 2019 a swiss. operation now russian ships are ready to complete the last 160 kilometers at the end of july the trumpet ministration further intensified threats supported by the us congress. this action puts investments or other activities that are related to these russian energy export pipelines at risk of u.s. sanctions it's a clear warning to companies aiding and abetting russian influence projects. get
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out now or risk the consequences americans fear that germany will become unilaterally dependent on russia through string to germany denies this and wants to proceed with the project the usa many in europe are saying it's only interested in their own expense of liquid gas to germany. will there be a trade war between the usa and germany. how explosive. it. to ridiculous levels but it is a problem in germany the ball's in germany's court now. will have to see but it's really once again it's not just it's the congress the congress forced to do this trump was originally reluctant to do more sanctions against russia but congress overruled him on the veto proof passage of legislation a few years ago so it's
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a mistake in germany to think it's only just because the americans want to. and it's a mistake to think it's only trump and the problem they take care of itself because it's not going to go away. you know the ball is in germany's coach should germany fight sanctions with sanctions. no i think it's not and i think it won't because. he has no interest in fighting merica economically over this and on top of that it needs e.u. and the e.u. responds because foreign trade is an e.u. matter so i think there's not a consensus in the u. in the 1st place and 2nd there's not the political will but there is certainly a political will to have a common stance on extraterritorial sanctions and that is where i see a major divergence of u.s. and european foreign policy in the future and the u.s.
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is losing europe over that over the question of extraterritorial sanction is becoming a question of the into of international relations and how we deal with each other in international relations so europe obviously and germany for about specific matter doesn't like to be put in the same basket like iran also we have major differences over the day cvo a reman with iran on nuclear energy we're also american extraterritorial sanctions are applied which have leading which have led to the possibility of having iran knew of having nuclear weapons in iran in the near future so this is this is i think the major bone of contention we will have in the future and i hope that if it should lose these elections that congress might rethink the consequences of extra tora tora and the sanctions in the future person do want to pick up on that yes yeah suddenly i think what i would say is it's not clear what is that in the teeth
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ation behind in washington state's vast range plus it's to me it's not clear what is the cost and benefit to this because the sanctions do a lot of harm. they go a lot of harm to the energy markets where we really see apologize ation going on and then it is also a loss of credibility and to me it's also not clear to look at the appropriate ness of the means because this issue of feeding the beast i would simply say ah it's much more important to the russian budget what trump did with the tweets to establish this opec plus agreement which we've seen in in may has done much more for the russian bunch of ben and you guess else we do so on this very important and we don't see moves that so in a sense it's a feeding scene in targeting germany and it's part of this german right of us rivalry we have we haven't mentioned chancellor merkel so far it's interesting that
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they're all this is on all the old races but they're the focus of the story one of the focus of the stories is her own constituency the island of brougham in northern germany what is going to michael's position on all this she seems to be sort of looking the other way. that position has been pretty much the same over the past 5 if you did this and now it's a clear stance against the step of the senate. if i may have an issue that i think in 2015 merkel was preoccupied with the refugee crisis when the social democrats pushed for this project so you have to see it as initially as a social democratic project now look the other way and said ok it's only an economic problem and possibly underestimated then the consequences this will have. but but when it came to the question of sanctions kat's sanctions extra
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territorial sanctions off coles then she was pressed into the line and this is the problem now because of the sanctions it's so difficult to have a broad controversial discussion in germany about that anymore but there are some signals coming from the german government peter buyer america's transatlantic coordinator in the foreign ministry said recently in an interview that maybe we didn't pay enough to the geo political implications of this we should have so there seems to be some reasonable thinking going on in trying to find a way out of this mess that sounds naive to assume that you know that this was always that this was never a policy of this so this line it's an economic it's an economic business projects and it's a political issue that seems very naive i mean the german foreign minister told told what you belive that he will not allow the u.s. to interfere in the way that it has been interfering in this story what kind of clout does the german foreign minister i want to make that kind of statement
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probably not very much. for mr talks a lot but i haven't seen the move move the needle anywhere really about the 10th german foreign minister to be laughable if in moscow on the tree as a lot of clout there he brought up a lot of issues this week in moscow with the assassination last summer in berlin things like that but i don't think a lot of things have changed so no german and no real german response and then gathering to the so the worries of the of the likes of ukraine and poland. well i think i was with. the day before yesterday in moscow and i can say that basically there was the the usual exchange of nice teas and criticism and so i think both countries are stuck and they're the most important thing is. germany still is the major organizer of sanctions against russia in the wake of the
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russian intervention in ukraine and i think 1st of all poland the baltic states and also the united states of america need to be particularly in up holding these sanctions also in the future so should germany decided to go along what some left as social democrats already leaning or suggest that we've finally. bandon these sanctions they will be shoot problem in containing russia and i think these sanctions which is why the overlook have actually reduced military tensions in ukraine and have stopped a major russian intervention in 2015 in what they call no vote also the areas in southern ukraine ok because it will come back to you in just a 2nd let's just move on to the showdown between washington and berlin over the nold string to pipeline comes against the backdrop of what almost feels like a breakdown in relations between the 2 sides which has been highlighted by donald
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trump's recent decision to withdraw troops american troops and thousands of them from germany. spangdahlem is one of 5 u.s. military bases affected by the troop withdrawal of the american base in the i feel region had been a major hub for u.s. operations in africa and the near and middle east a total of 12000 of the 34500 g.i.'s stationed in germany are to either return home for the transfer to other european nato bases president trump has announced that the reason for this is germany's contributions to nato which are far below the minimum requirement agreed to and. we. regardless of whether or not donald trump is reelected in november germany can
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probably count on less u.s. support in the future. this heavenly situation where we are well off doing well financially and growing while the us protects us with their military power and nuclear arms and europe really isn't anything of the past and it won't be easy to recreate the center will nato be weakened by the dispute between partners. that's the question will not be weakened by this dispute between germany and the us so how how far will that's weakness to go in a yes or no so 1st of all i think donald trump is nothing or a good at numbers germany now is contributing to the nato budget as much as america's contribution he probably meant the german defense budget with germany is below what it has problems in 2014 and that is
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a problem i think but here we're talking about american troops which will be redistributed and withdrawn from germany which we're not. of nato operation in europe but actually a part of you as operations in the middle east in africa so not directly concern in nature so this is an american issue it will be an additional burden to the american budget so it's not true what trump says it's not use is serving the american economy but it will be and additional burden however it is a political problem because the of course just doesn't go without noticing in russia this is direct this against nato so it's more a politically politically symbolic problem than a military problem for nato. yeah indeed i mean i think what is so tricky for bilin is this issue linkage that we see security linking it to an
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economic economic issues like like also energy issues and and this is not the style of birdland used to deal with the issues it was much more compartmentalized in the end so this is also something we're seeing with the north stream to pipeline project and by the way i wanted to say some thing on about ukraine and poland it's not to how it's said out of washington that. didn't pay concerns i mean he didn't cost very much engaged in the trilateral talks in g. thing this agreement that we see now full 5 is that having transit guaranteed through ukraine we've seen in germany pushing inside the e.u. for common policy and energy projects like the baltic pipe for example which is paid from the european bought it. poland with with no value to the gas fields so this is part of how it's seen in germany
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a very very very so bow way off yeah that's interesting because i was going to sort of this is you know this all sounds very much on. the sort of the typical rational german approach americans the american of the sable how great is your concern that on both stories with today about the pipeline in the troop withdrawal well playing into vladimir putin's hands because not one of the tropes in the american divestment yeah absolutely europe divided is good news for putin and putin. he's happy when nato is fighting amongst themselves united states and germany are having their their problems hopefully they'll overcome them but as far as the 5 year deal for ukraine goes what happens after 5 years that's that's a problem not what happens 5 years or so but once again the whole nato issue is you're germany wasn't listening american presidents been warning for a long time germany for defense and they didn't do more for defense and that's why they're in the mess they are now because germany wasn't listening to the signals on this point going to get it's going to probably not going to get finished no i'd be surprised if anything has coming out of that ok you had it here folks thanks for
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joining us on to the point here d.w. enjoy the show as much as i have come back next week bye bye. for.
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