Germany and Norway announce plan to better protect maritime infrastructureComments
Leaders of Germany and Norway launched a plan on Wednesday to better protect maritime infrastructure within NATO.
"We take the protection of our infrastructure very seriously and that no one can believe that attacks would remain without consequence," said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a press conference in Berlin with his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store.
The announcement comes after explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines, which bring gas from Russia to Europe, and suspicious sightings of drones around Norway's offshore oil rigs.
Scholz detailed that this initiative would take place under the NATO umbrella and ensure a "rapid reaction", in the event of an emergency.
"We are in the process of asking the Secretary General of NATO [Jens Stoltenberg] to set up a coordination body for the protection of maritime infrastructures," he said, calling these infrastructures the "arteries of the modern economy".
Four huge gas leaks were detected on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that supply Europe, especially energy-hungry Germany, with Russian gas.
Against the backdrop of the Ukraine war and western sanctions against Russia, many European powers have suggested sabotage and launched an investigation. Moscow denies being behind the incident, accusing the United Kingdom.
Neither the German or Norwegian leaders offered specific details on how they intended to protect maritime infrastructure or how the plans would work.
"Informal" at this stage, Store said it would involve "exchange between civil and military actors" backed up by NATO.
The security of energy facilities and other critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications, would be concerned, he added.
Norway has become Europe's largest supplier of natural gas since Russia turned off the taps in September.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the German-Norwegian proposal. He is visiting Berlin from Wednesday evening until Friday.
"NATO has been working for several years to guarantee the security of maritime infrastructure," he said in a statement.
"We have stepped up our efforts following the recent sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines, and it is vital to do more to ensure that our offshore infrastructure remains safe from future acts of destruction," he said.