[1]

Earlier this morning, a group of us demonstrated outside the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to demand that the bank rescinds its Oct 18th commitment to finance $500 for TANAP – the middle and largest pipeline of the Southern Gas Corridor, and does not fund the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) or any part of the BP led Southern Gas Corridor.

The 3,500km BP led Southern Gas Corridor project – consisting of the TAP and TANAP pipelines – is a gigantic piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure intended to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. If built, it will lock Europe into 40 more years of fossil fuel dependency. The mega project is against the will of communities – all along the route communities have subject to repression, and not been properly consulted. The pipeline is simply not possible without corruption, violence and gross human rights violations. When public banks like the EBRD and European Investment Bank (EIB) fund gas pipelines like TAP and TANAP, they are funding corruption, violence and human rights abuses.

We read out messages from the NO TAP resistance in Italy, from farmers in Greece, and from human rights activist Rasul Jafarov, who was imprisoned by the Azerbaijan dictatorship for 6.5yrs for criticising repression in Azerbaijan and the alliance between the dictatorship and BP:

“TAP is a socio-environmental issue, it is a democratic issue, and it is also an issue of organised crime. It is a global issue, that we are fighting locally, by building networks of relationships and solidarity.”  – No TAP activist, Italy

“Olive trees have always been our bread, our economy, the way of life that this territory has chosen. Olive trees are our memory, like those landscape that they want to excavate, destroy, erase, and that our children may never be able to see and enjoy.” – No TAP activist, Italy

“I believe it is time to demand respect for human rights and democratic principles, including the rule of law and pluralism from the EBRD as well other financial institutions. They must hear voice of ordinary people in countries they foster to assist, and refrain to ignore realities! I fully support current protest and believe much more should be done in the nearest future. Let’s act together!” –  Rasul Jafarov, human rights activist, Azerbaijan

“We are going to resist and fight. If the company wants the pipeline to pass through our region, it will have to pass over our bodies

We have filed complaints, such as work carried out without permission. We have stopped the police and the TAP company. They’ve entered our land without permission, we have started lawsuits but nothing has changed. On the contrary, after a while executives of the company mocked us saying “you see nothing has changed.

Who governs our country? TAP or the government? We would also like to answer that.”  – Themis Kalpakidis – President of the Kavala’s Farmers’ Association, Greece

In solidarity with communities in Azerbaijan, Greece and Italy resisting this mega project, we delivered an olive tree to the EBRD. The olive tree marks our support of local olive farmers in Italy, who have been peacefully resisting construction of the pipeline since the Italian government overturned the decision of the local council and granted approval for the project.

Our protest is part of a coordinated set of actions throughout Europe taking place under the banner No TAP. Not here. Not anywhere. As recently as Sunday night, a massive military action in Salento (the Italian region where the pipeline ends) has resulted in roadblocks and the multinational company has restrained NO TAP activists, using heavy aggression against locals peacefully resisting the project. [2]

The total cost for the BP-led project is estimated at around $45 billion, with $8.6 billion being made available for this project from public banks. The EBRD has already agreed to fund $500 million towards the project, while the EIB is considering granting its largest loan to date – up to €2 billion. Not only is the pipeline against the will of the communities, If built, the pipeline would be disastrous for the climate and will undermine Europe’s commitment to the Paris Accord. Public money should not be irresponsibly invested to generate profits for private fossil fuel companies especially when demand is falling and existing European gas infrastructure is operating at as low as 20% capacity.

The EBRD and the EIB should do the right thing and stop funding gas infrastructure expansion now. 

. Not here. Not anywhere

For stories from the frontline:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jo-ram/greek-pipeline-tap

https://www.opendemocracy.net/emma-hughes/walking-line

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2017/11/13/no-tap-not-here-not-anywhere/all-of-us-2/
  2. As recently as Sunday night, a massive military action in Salento (the Italian region where the pipeline ends) has resulted in roadblocks and the multinational company has restrained NO TAP activists, using heavy aggression against locals peacefully resisting the project. : https://www.facebook.com/MovimentoNoTAP/