Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) apparently informed the federal government early on about the intention to circumvent US sanctions against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea by means of an environmental foundation with its own business operations. This emerges from the answers of the Schwerin State Chancellery to inquiries from the daily mirror. In the period from the end of November 2020, Schwesig had already telephoned the then Federal Minister of Finance and current Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the then Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD). In addition, she met the former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in person on December 18, 2020 in the Chancellery in Berlin. As in the talks with Scholz and Maas, it was about the “problem of US sanctions” and the establishment of the foundation intended by the state government.
The controversial Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania did business for Nord Stream 2 last year in the amount of 165 million euros. Among other things, she bought a ship to attach the pipeline to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It is financed largely with money from Russian gas deals. Critics accuse Schwesig and the foundation that climate protection was only the purpose of the foundation. In truth, it was about completing the pipeline project from the start. Schwesig now wants to dissolve the foundation.
The state government had previously confirmed contacts between the then Energy Minister, Christian level (SPD), the then Finance Minister, Scholz, and the former Economics Minister, Peter Altmaier (CDU), who were concerned with the foundation. According to the information, the former Schwerin Economics Minister Harry Glawe (CDU) also spoke to Merkel and Altmaier before the cabinet decision on the foundation on January 6, 2021. When exactly level and Glawe made their announcements, however, is not yet clear.
With regard to the economic foundation business operations, it remains unclear what the federal government found out in detail from November 2020. The State Chancellery said that Schwesig had not informed about the scope and services. Apparently, Schwesig can no longer remember the exact content of the telephone calls with the then Ministers Scholz and Maas or the meeting with Merkel. “Details can no longer be understood in detail,” explained a spokesman after consulting Schwesig. There are no notes of the conversation, the information to the ministers and the chancellor was only given verbally. The Prime Minister and the State Chancellery had not submitted any documents for the establishment of the foundation either. The State Chancellery needed a total of almost eight weeks to answer the Tagesspiegel inquiries. The facts required further research, it was said as a reason.
The Federal Government is also currently unable to determine which details have become known about the planned establishment of the foundation at the end of 2020. The Federal Chancellery points out that it was a project and a decision by the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The Chancellery was informed, but there was no coordination with the Federal Government. A question about the personal knowledge of the then Finance Minister Scholz left both the Ministry of Finance and the Chancellery unanswered.
In the Schwerin state parliament, at the urging of the opposition from the CDU, Greens, FDP and AfD, a committee of inquiry is to investigate the role played by the political decision-makers in the founding of the foundation and what funds the foundation accepted. At the same time, various legal proceedings are being conducted on information provided by the foundation and its board of directors, former Prime Minister Erwin Sellering (SPD).