European, Russian firms to decide on Nord Stream 2 future: German ambassador

European and Russian firms will decide on the future of Nord Stream 2, German Ambassador to Poland Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven told "Gazeta Polska Codziennie" on Saturday.

Referring to the current state of Polish-German relations, the ambassador dubbed them "good" and "well-founded".

In the interview, Loringhoven was asked whether Germany would decide to stop Nord Stream 2 due to, among other factors, calls to initiate lawsuits against those in Russia who benefit the most from the project.

"Whether the sanctions finally lead to stopping the construction of the pipeline is contingent on the decisions of the European and Russian firms involved," the ambassador said, recalling German FM Heiko Maas' statement that terminating the Nord Stream 2 project would make over 100 firms from 12 European countries suffer. "This is something that we have to take into account as well," Loringhoven said.

"Concerning our relations with Russia, we agree with Poland: in the past, Russia demonstrated its capability for ruthless actions violating international law. We absolutely condemn such acts. The fact that we responded to the annexation of Crimea with sanctions and that these sanctions are maintained today is also to the credit of the Federal Chancellor [Angela Merkel]," the ambassador said, recalling the recent attempt to poison Alexey Navalny.

"The case of Navalny proved once again that extra caution must be maintained with regard to Russia," he added.

The diplomat recalled that the EU's Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) had agreed to a joint proposal of FMs Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian, which would enable the imposition of sanctions on specific individuals.

The diplomat was also asked about deputy head of the European Parliament Katarina Barley, who had spoken with Deutschlandfunk radio about pressing Poland on the topic of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, and about financially starving Viktor Orban.

The ambassador answered saying: "I understand that Hungary and Poland perceive the word 'starving' through the lens of historical perspective. Regarding the protection of the rule of law in the entire Europe, I would like to clarify that the rule of law is one of the fundamental values on which the EU rests."

"Companies would not continue to invest in another country, should they be unable to rely on the rule of law. Mutual trust is the capital. That is why the German presidency in the European Council acts on the behalf of the rule of law," he said.

The diplomat recalled that the motion on the establishment of the monument to Polish victims in Berlin, that is, the memorial to Polish victims of German WWII occupation, originated from the Bundestag.

"Friendship does not mean, however, that we must be silent about controversial topics. Quite the contrary, a true friendship will withstand the difference of opinion. Concerning the fundamental values of the EU, we support them. There are Germans in particular who must know… that we will always remember what we owe to the fundamental values - our freedom, our prosperity and the protection of dignity of each human being," the ambassador said.

The diplomat said that Polish-German relations have been good and well-founded over the latest decades.

"We are friends and strategic partners in the EU and NATO. What constitutes the strong points of these relations is much more than close political contacts and numerous meetings between the heads of our states and governments, ministers and clerks who conduct the ongoing dialogue. These are many individual people who strengthen and root them deeply. These are German enterprises that invest in Poland, Polish startups becoming successful in Germany. These are young people going on winter holidays together, professors conducting research as part of interuniversity cooperation. These are parishes, city partnerships, and many Polish-German families that look after understanding and agreement between our countries," the diplomat said.

"These people unite our relations so strongly that nothing can sever them," the German ambassador concluded.