by Jerome a Paris
Wed May 10th, 2006 at 03:23:48 PM EST
A tale of double standards, hypocrisy and sad fantasies
From Mr Jérôme Guillet.
Sir, Wolfgang Munchau ("Europe needs a joint response to Russia", May 8) perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the Blair/Barroso/Cheney crowd with respect to Russia - complete with blatant hypocrisy and terrible inconsistency.
When Russia talks about diversifying its clientele to China or the US, it is blackmail, but when Europe says that it should diversify its suppliers away from Russia, that country has no reason to feel threatened by it? The dependency is mutual and works both ways.
The criticism of the Baltic pipeline as a denial of a weapon to the Poles (that of interrupting Russian gas exports further west) acknowledges the logic of pipelines as weapons, which makes a mockery of calls for cross-border gas infrastructure in Europe to be managed in accordance with pure market rules. If Poland should have access to such a weapon, why deny it to Russia, then? Again, double standards.
The call for "solidarity" between European countries in case of gas cuts by Russia to one of them suggests that market mechanisms would not be sufficient to solve the issue. Why wouldn't other European players on the market take advantage of the arbitrage opportunities created by such an artificial shortage? Calling for further elimination of the supposed obstacles to free energy markets in Europe would have been logical. The fact that such a call is not made demonstrates that market proponents know perfectly well that the markets are not enough to resolve such issues. The calls in the same article for further liberalisation are all the more incongruous.
The one thing never acknowledged in the panicked stories about Europe's "growing dependence" on Russian gas is that this is purely a UK story. France, Germany, Italy and many others have long been largely or fully dependent on imported gas, and to a large extent on Russian gas, and they have managed that situation for a number of decades without any hitch. The only difference today is that the Blair government is panicking in the face of an apparently unplanned-for switch from net exporter to importer, and has found it convenient to blame "protectionists" on the Continent or evil Russian "imperialists" for its own lack of foresight. European solidarity in this context means that those European countries that have planned for, and paid for, the infrastructure and long-term contracts required to provide for security of supply would be required to share these investments with the one government that had decided not to plan for these things, because the "markets" would take care of it, and suddenly finds out that it is not the case.
You would provide a service to your readers not to indulge Tony Blair's sad fantasies and blame game.
75016 Paris, France
That's my letter, as sent to them on Monday, published in full, with the kind correction of a couple typos and expressions.
I see this as an encouragement to continue, and I thank them for printing a second letter in less than a month.