"We love our land, and we're fighting the pipeline because we're afraid it will destroy the region."
- Themis Kalpakidis, head of the farmer's union in Kavala, Greece
The watermelons are drowning. Every time it rains, the rainwater can no longer drain off.
The TAP is currently the largest and most expensive of such infrastructure projects in the EU.
He goes to his field at least twice a day to check whether anyone has been there without his permission.
TAP claims that it has conducted multiple meetings with farmers and the public since 2013 to inform people affected by the pipeline of their rights and the pipeline's intended course. It says that it only availed itself of its right to enter a person's property without their consent in cases when no agreement could be reached. A practice called "forced process" provides the legal basis for this course of action, and the practice is established in Greek law. Unlike dispossession, the owner does not lose their property rights, because the land is returned to the legal owner and user when construction is complete. The dispossession is only temporary. Our farmer Spyros Prousaef says he's never heard anything about a law like that.
But should the interests of one hundred people even matter when the energy independence of all of Europe is on the table? When do group rights take precedence over individual rights? The law has a clear answer to this second question: When the public welfare is at stake (in this case energy security through natural gas), limitations can be placed on basic rights such as the right to property or nature. Such a process begins by weighing the competing legal interests. What is more important: a farmer making a living or seeing the project through? This approach is common practice in Austria too. Like when a new stretch of highway is going down. Democracy has a solution for these types of conflicts. In a nutshell, the majority rules.
Especially when the issue is bigger than a highway. The TAP will be the first pipeline to bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe, says Kirsten Westphal, an energy expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. "It will provide a link to an appealing region - to Turkmenistan, Iran and the Eastern Mediterranean, where there are major gas reserves. It has geopolitical significance." Especially given that Europe's own gas reserves are declining. Europe's dependence on Russian gas has been coming into question since at least the 2014 crisis in Ukraine, which resulted in gas supply shortages. The EU's third energy package was the first time it distanced itself from Russia. Among other things, the mechanism prohibits pipeline operators from simultaneously acting as gas suppliers. This regulation is unambiguously aimed at Gazprom, the Russian gas conglomerate that had been performing both functions. Still, it is important not to overestimate the importance of the TAP, says Westphal: "The TAP will bring ten billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe each year. That's only a small amount compared to Russia, which supplied 187 billion cubic metres last year. But it does contribute to diversification." So the TAP is not going to change that much after all. [...]Zum Original