Manuela Schwesig (SPD) speaks of mistakes without really admitting any.

To do this, she uses the addition: with the knowledge of today.

The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is facing severe criticism for her state government's long adherence to Nord Stream 2 and the establishment of a climate foundation to secure the construction of the pipeline despite American threats of sanctions.

After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Schwesig already admitted that it was a mistake – “with today's knowledge”.

Which of course means: with the knowledge from back then, there shouldn't have been any.

Matthias Wysuwa

Political correspondent for northern Germany and Scandinavia based in Hamburg.

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Schwesig has now presented this formula again in an interview with "Zeit".

In the conversation, she also insists that the so-called economic business operation to secure the pipeline construction was only “a temporary secondary purpose” of the foundation founded in January 2021, even if some critics see it as the main purpose.

"Climate and environmental protection would then have been the only permanent purpose of the foundation," says Schwesig.

"It would have invested many millions in climate and environmental projects in the country over many years."

What this "secondary purpose" has achieved, however, is becoming increasingly clear.

The foundation has long kept a low profile, but has now published a statement on how the business operations helped complete the pipeline - and how close the contacts to Nord Stream 2 AG were.

Nord Stream proposed the boss

Accordingly, the company itself proposed the managing director, a Hamburg management consultant who is said to have previously worked on the pipeline project.

The business was not provided with start-up capital.

The 20 million euros that Nord Stream 2 AG had pledged in addition to the 200,000 euros from the state to found the foundation “flowed exclusively into the public interest area of ​​the foundation and is only available to finance the office and climate protection work”. .

The business operation is said to have financed itself solely through its “entrepreneurial activity”.

A cooperation agreement with Nord Stream 2 stipulated that

that the remuneration of the business operation is calculated according to the value of the services and goods - plus a surcharge of ten percent.

Nord Stream 2 made a down payment.

According to the foundation, the services consisted in the fact that, according to the foundation, the business operations had “taken on the role of those, mostly larger, internationally active companies” “that had to bow to the sanctions” and therefore no longer act as “suppliers and clients for the small, mostly medium-sized companies available to the country”.

There was “regular contact with Nord Stream 2 AG” “to exchange information about the required materials and services”.

For example, materials and machines were purchased “to a large extent” in order to pass them on to third parties for the construction of the pipeline or so that third parties can use them.

Contracts with a total volume of 165 million euros have been concluded with around 80 companies.

And since no contractual partner could be found for the necessary riprap in Danish waters, the business also bought the ship "Blue Ship" with the money from Nord Stream 2 and had it converted accordingly.

The price is subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

The board of the foundation was apparently well informed about what the business was doing, having been briefed in a total of more than 60 video chats.

The state government, on the other hand, had "no longer had any opportunity to exert influence" after the foundation was set up.

The foundation worked completely independently of the founder, there were "no agreements with the state government or the prime minister to complete the pipeline".

Schwesig also emphasized that the foundation is independent.

She didn't even know the name of the manager of the business.

"Everything that happened in the foundation was the independent responsibility of the board."

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the state government demanded that business operations be wound up. This is happening right now and should last until the end of September.

After that, the board of directors is to resign and the entire foundation is to be dissolved.

The pipeline is finished but not operational.

When Schwesig justified the founding of the foundation in early 2021 in the state parliament, she said that if necessary, the foundation could make a contribution to the completion of the pipeline.

"But they will neither build nor operate them." The state parliament agreed at the time without a dissenting vote.

Now the opposition has set up a committee of inquiry.