Gazprom’s Karelian Quandary

Planned route of the Nord Stream pipelineFinnish businessmen want to exchange mining claim for Karelia

Four Finnish businessmen have submitted an application to begin mining ore in the Baltic Sea. The businessmen say they are prepared to drop their application, however, if Russia agrees to begin negotiations on returning areas in Karelia that Finland ceded to the Soviet Union in World War II. The mine would be located on a part of the seabed where the Russian-German joint venture, Nord Stream, plans to lay its gas pipeline.

Kari Silvennoinen, lawyer representing the mining prospectors, said the Russian government, worried about a delay in the pipeline project, had contacted the group about a week ago, offering the businessmen considerable amounts of money in return for withdrawing the mining application. Mr Silvennoinen said his clients had refused the cash, saying they wanted Karelia instead. The mining application has been pending for a year.

Pekka Suomela, Senior Inspector in charge of mining issues at the Ministry of Employment and Economy, said the mining application was “bizarre to say the least.” He said Russian officials had asked the ministry for information about the application. Nord Stream spokesman Sebastian Sass said he had no knowledge about the mining project, but did not see the mining claim as an impediment to the pipeline project.

Source: YLE News, 27.08.2009

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