Manuela Schwesig and the Social Democratic defenders of her government in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have a point: When the state set up the “MV Climate and Environmental Protection” foundation in early 2021, it did not happen in secret, and there was no lack of political support in Schwerin.
It was true that everything had to happen quickly, nobody could say exactly how the "economic business operation" was actually supposed to secure the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and it was striking how extensively people raved about climate and environmental protection, although this was obvious was not the main reason why the foundation should be set up so quickly.
But in the end, the state parliament passed the plan without resistance.
That hardly played a role in the state elections in September, the pipeline was built and Schwesig's SPD won triumphantly.
But that doesn't make the history of the country and its foundation any better.
On the contrary.
It's not just about what drove Schwerin to do it - it's also about why the project wasn't stopped much sooner.
That should also concern the committee of inquiry into the foundation, which has now been set up.
Because it didn't take all the information about the behavior of the foundation or the contacts between the state government and representatives of Nord Stream 2, which trickle under high pressure from outside to the public, to see what a brazen maneuver it was from the start.
What does "economic business operation" mean?
A look at the statute is enough.
The foundation was mainly provided with money from Nord Stream 2 AG to secure the construction of the pipeline.
In order for this to succeed smoothly, the articles of association of this same Nord Stream 2 AG were granted opportunities to influence “economic business operations”.
Everything was set up for a scandal: that a company backed by the Russian state-owned company Gazprom could end up using a foundation tailored by the country to circumvent threats of American sanctions and finish building its pipeline.
All around a green coat.
In the country, however, that hardly seemed to bother anyone for a long time.
Criticism came from environmental organizations and also from the Greens.
But at that time they were still an extra-parliamentary force in the north.
Things remained quiet in Schwerin, and not much was heard from Berlin either.
Many were keen to end construction, and the threat of sanctions caused outrage, not only in the north.
Security of supply and bridging technology were the keywords for this, but at the same time the pipeline was downplayed as a private-sector project.
It is right and proper to criticize threats of sanctions and refer to valid contracts.
Harnessing the state government and the state parliament to push through a billion-dollar deal with the help of a foundation is a crooked way to assert one's interests.
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, at least since the introduction of Russia Day in the year of the Russian annexation of Crimea, it had been proven that they maintained their proximity to Moscow without blushing.
This course paid off for the SPD, and it met with a lot of approval.
Distancing themselves from the West and America, glorifying the past that was close to Russia seemed to be more important to many in the country than a long-overdue distancing from Moscow.
When Schwesig came to Schwerin from Berlin, she continued the comfortable course of her predecessor, including Russia Day and Pipeline.
She now bears the political responsibility for establishing the foundation.
The fact that she announced a turning point in relations with Russia after the outbreak of the war and initiated the dissolution of the foundation changes little: Schwesig reduced her prospects of a federal political return and damaged her country's reputation.
But that doesn't mean that it's the same in their country.
There is nothing to indicate that it has lost all that much support in the north.
However, the FDP and Greens are bringing a breath of fresh air to the state parliament as the new opposition, and the CDU, now also in opposition, is trying to regain feelings in its limbs that had obviously died out in the long SPD embrace.
The committee of inquiry they requested must now try to show who exerted what influence in order to set up the foundation.
Finally, there must be clarity as to what exactly the "business operations" of the foundation did when building the pipeline - and how that fits in with the announcements made when the foundation was founded.
If the committee is successful, it might help to restore the country's image.Keywords: