Hungarian foreign minister defends use of Russian gas and oil
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Campaigners have slammed Germany after it struck a deal with the “repressive and authoritarian” Qatari regime as it scrambles to break free from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tight energy grip. With Moscow threatening to “freeze” Europe this winter after already slashing deliveries to the continent, Germany has been racing to replace Russian gas with alternative supplies to avoid the energy crisis deepening.
While the EU has pledged to cut ties with Putin not only to boost its own energy security but also to stop handing the Kremlin billions of euros amid the brutal invasion of Ukraine, Berlin has struck a deal with another nation whose actions have been questioned.
Particularly amid the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the Qatari regime’s repression of LGBTQ rights has come under the microscope, not to mention its treatment of migrant workers, 6,000 of whom died during the construction of the football stadiums used in the tournament.
Despite this, Germany has signed a 15-year long-term liquified natural gas (LNG) import contract with Qatar as it grapples with its own energy crisis.
Campaigners at Global Witness have argued that Germany has forced itself into this position by “building new gas infrastructure”, keeping it reliant on foreign states when it could have ramped up its domestic clean energy sources.
Barnaby Pace, senior gas campaigner at Global Witness, told Express.co.uk: “Germany’s gas deal with Qatar is the latest example of how Europe’s dependence on fossil gas locks us into funding repressive, authoritarian states.
“And we’ll be stuck in this situation for the long-term unless Germany and the EU stop building new pipelines and terminals to import gas, and embark on a massive roll-out of clean energy and insulation.”
Energy minister and QatarEnergy CEO Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said on Tuesday that it would supply Germany with two million tonnes of LNG to “contribute to efforts to support energy security in Germany and Europe”.
He added: “Germany represents the largest gas market in Europe … and we are committed to supporting its energy security.”
Germany hasn’t received any Russian gas since August, having previously got over half of its supplies from Moscow. The nation has been building five LNG terminals to account for the loss of Russian supplies, much of which came through the major Nord Stream pipeline via the Baltic Sea route.
Bloomberg columnist Javier Blas tweeted: “After all, Berlin decided it does need LNG imports going on as long as into the early 2040s. Security of energy supply trumps everything else.”
Speaking on the deal, German economy minister Robert Habeck said: “Fifteen years is great. I wouldn’t have anything against 20-year or even longer contracts.” However, it is important to note that QatarEnergy’s deal was struck with US group ConocoPhillips, a private firm that is not connected to the German Government.
Mr Habeck said: “The contracts themselves are the business of the companies . . . [they] have to realise that Germany will [in future] be purchasing less [gas] if we want to adhere to our climate goals.”
But Germany is not the only country interested in Qatari gas. Back in May, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani at Downing Street.
The Emir signing a £10billion commitment to investing in Britain’s trade, defence and energy. Qatar has the world’s third most abundant natural gas reserves and has said that the UK is a “very important country for us”.
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But while opponents of the Qatari regime have launched scathing criticisms of the Middle Eastern state amid the World Cup, Westminster has previously urged fans attending the sporting event to respect the nation’s culture
In comments which sparked backlash for being “tone-deaf”, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “One of the things I would say to the football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation.”
But a spokesperson from no10 was quick to distance Prime Minister Rishi Sunak from this stance, saying: “We wouldn’t expect [LGBTQ fans] to compromise who they are and you’ll know the UK has very clear rules around this.”
Rasha Younes, a researcher from Human Rights Watch, an organisation that has investigated the alleged mistreatment of people by the Qatari government, said ahead of the start of the tournament: “While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked. Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching.”
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