10:32 GMT09 May 2021
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    Before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Central European tour, there was a leak from the State Department that the purpose of his visit to Europe was to limit the influence of Russia and China in the region. But was that the only reason? Sputnik asked the opinion of Czech economist and analyst Jan Campbell.

    During his visit to Bratislava, Mike Pompeo met with Slovak President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and Foreign Minister Miroslav Laichak. They discussed foreign policy and security issues with the US Secretary of State. Following the talks, Pompeo, in particular, noted the purchase of American military equipment, which many believe will reduce Slovakia's dependence on Russian-made weapons.

    READ MORE: Ankara Plans to Spend $23Mln on TurkStream Gas Pipeline

    "Any actions by the United States, including visits by high-ranking and lower-ranking officials and representatives, are always aimed at protecting the interests of the United States… Which, however, does not exclude the possibility of temporary selective protection of the so-called state ally — in this case the Slovak Republic. It is needed to advance the interests of the United States in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, that as a territory is designed to weaken Russia, which the United States has long been striving for," Jan Campbell told Sputnik.

    TurkStream: What is it about

    Before the tour began, a high-ranking State Department official said that Pompeo would call upon Hungary to abandon its participation with Russia in the TurkStream pipeline project.

    "In Hungary, we will continue to advocate for the diversification of energy supplies in Central Europe. The Secretary of State will urge Hungary to more actively participate in the completion of the LNG import terminal project on the Island of Krk and the construction of a pipeline, and will also discourage Hungary from supporting TurkStream," a State Department spokesman said.

    The TurkStream project involves the construction of two offshore pipelines with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters each. The first pipeline will supply to gas to Turkey. The location of the second pipeline hasn't been determined, but planners are considering routing it through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria or through Greece and Italy.

    Although the construction of the pipeline has already begun, the United States continues to talk about Europe running the risk of depending on Russian energy imports. Is there any basis for their warnings?

    "History shows that the USSR has always fulfilled its obligations in accordance with an agreement. Its successor, the Russian Federation, continues this tradition despite the privatisation of energy companies. However, since private companies, even when partly state-run, may fall under sanctions more easily, the risk [of disruption of supplies] increases. In certain situations, however, the dependence may manifest itself, primarily because of sanctions, and not because of supplies from the Russian Federation, which are monopolist," the Czech economist explained.

    Has Europe become a hostage of the US-Chinese trade war?

    One of the items on the agenda during the talks between Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and Pompeo was the PM's call to make every effort to prevent a trade war between the United States and the European Union.

    However, Campbell explained, the United States continues to pursue its own agenda, pointing to the statement made by Pompeo on 11 February in Budapest during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, when he warned Europe of the risks associated with Chinese tech giant Huawei.

    "What is imperative is that we share with them the things we know about the risks that Huawei's presence in their networks present — actual risks to their people, to the loss of privacy protections for their own people, to the risk that China will use this in a way that is not in the best interest of Hungary. […] If that equipment (from Huawei) is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them," the US Secretary of State said.

    "Huawei is (being) used to divert attention. Any sabotage or restriction of Huawei or other Chinese firms is a direct violation of the WTO rules; it means a loss of sovereignty for any European state, the EU and Europe, the impossibility of scientific and technical cooperation and, in the end, trade," Campbell concluded.

    The views and opinions expressed by the experts do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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