Karlshamn goes rogue on Nord Stream 2
The municipality of Karlshamn in southern Sweden has given permission for a Russian gas firm to use a section of its harbour during the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Russian gas will be transported to Germany through the pipeline from the end of 2019. The Swedish government has warned of risks to national security, but for Karlshamn the prospect of millions in revenues and the creation of new jobs weighs more heavily. Should the government have prevented Karlshamn from approving the plans?
Sweden must not participate
Karlshamn's decision to allow a section of its harbour to be used for the construction of the controversial pipeline provokes an incensed reaction from Aftonbladet:
“The Russian energy sector is directly linked to the state and ultimately to Vladimir Putin. Gas and oil are security policy. With the construction of Nord Stream 2 Russia will earn money to upgrade its weapons arsenal and secure direct political influence over Western Europe. None of this is in Sweden's interest. Moreover, the so-called 'energy weapon' is part of a broader Russian strategy aimed at gaining political influence in its neighbouring countries. The best course would be to stop the construction of the gas pipeline completely, and if that isn't possible Sweden certainly shouldn't contribute in any way to the project.”
Government ignored issue for too long
There is a clear conflict of interests between the affected municipalities and the Swedish state, Sydsvenskan observes, criticising the government's incompetent handling of the situation:
“Municipal goals take priority over security policy interests, and the formal explanation for this is the municipality's right to self-determination. But the whole affair wouldn't have escalated if the government had taken the issue seriously from the start. Even though the plans for the pipeline project had been known for a long time it wasn't until mid-December that the government summoned the affected municipalities - Karlshamn and Gotland - for talks. … Currently the government has no authority to intervene here. According to [Defence Minister Peter] Hultqvist the government has examined whether it could change this legal position, but that would take too long. Now the ministers are doing all they can to play down the issue.”