Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007
October 18, 2007
Remarks of H.E. Audrius Bruzga at Hudson Institute
I would like to thank Hudson Institute for providing such an excellent location for this event. Today's event is only the latest of many cooperative endeavors between Hudson and the Lithuanian government. In fact, I see that one of our prior collaborations, a white paper written by Hudson for us, is being distributed today. I am very pleased to see that this partnership continues—and, in fact, advances—by today's event and the event last week in Vilnius.
The event I am referring to was an international Conference held October 10th and 11th in Vilnius, co-hosted by the Presidents of Lithuania and Poland. Entitled "Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners," it was a follow-up to a similar conference that took place in Krakow, Poland earlier this year. The Conference in Vilnius examined the issues of energy security and discussed the need for EU external energy policy. Next year, in Kyiv, a third iteration of this conference will take place.
Last week's conference consisted of two components: a summit of international Leaders of countries and a forum of energy experts. The experts' forum delved deeper into the issues and came up with a series of recommendations which can be found among the documents distributed today. It presents a broad list of recommendations for how the stakeholders should proceed in order to achieve the goals discussed during the Conference. These goals address the variety of global and European energy challenges. Specifically, they include facilitating the development of the emerging common European energy policy; committing to diversify energy supplies, and engaging partner countries in an effort to increase cooperation and encourage market reciprocity.
It would be fair to say that this was a highly successful Conference—a meeting of stakeholders. The general guidelines that the Conference succeeded in drawing beforehand were reflected in the conclusions of the Conference released by the Heads of State and Governments.
The participating Leaders of countries indicated their willingness to intensify energy cooperation according to the principles of transparency, reciprocity and non-discrimination as provided in the Energy Charter Treaty and the Transit Protocol. They also agreed to work to ensure that others also adhered to these principles. Participants endorsed the proposed energy policy for Europe, which was recently endorsed by the European Council and which recognizes the increasing importance of environmental sustainability, security of supply, and economic competitiveness. They welcomed the European Union's intentions to advance the development of its external energy policy based upon the principle of solidarity. The need for cooperation between energy consuming, producing and transit countries was highlighted. The Leaders welcomed the prospect of greater energy cooperation between the EU, the United States, and the Caspian and Black Sea regions. Through this cooperation, it is envisioned to create a united coalition dedicated to establishing additional flow of energy supply to Europe.
One tangible manifestation of the success of the Conference was the signing of a political agreement on the Odesa-Brody-Plotsk pipeline project. Such a pipeline would carry crude oil produced in the Caspian Sea region to the EU—and potentially all the way to the Baltic Sea. This agreement had five signatory countries—Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania—which pledged their support to the implementation of this project.
The Vilnius Conference was a very important step in guiding the European Union towards a more coherent external energy policy—one that can match its already robust internal energy policy. The European Union has already begun the process of formulating such a policy but more consorted efforts are needed in order to make it sustainable. The Vilnius Conference was one of the first to engage Europe, the United States, Central Asia, user, transit and resource countries in a simultaneous effort to work together. More importantly, this Conference showed that it can be done. The signature of the Odesa-Brody-Plotsk agreement is testament enough that we can work together. The participation of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan—countries that are far from Lithuania and Europe geographically—was especially meaningful and indicated their willingness to work with the European Union. Dialogue with these crucial energy producers must be followed up later.
And while this Conference aimed to increase unity among Europe and its neighbors, I have to say that it was certainly not an "anti-Russia" event. On the contrary, President Putin and other Russian representatives were invited. The goal was to make the Conference an inclusive process—not an exclusive one. And for those that attended I believe it was.
In sum, the Vilnius Conference was a success and there will be a follow-up next year, as I mentioned, in Kyiv. We believe that all the participating countries, particularly the United States, will continue to cooperate and work for the mutual benefit of Europe and her neighbors. Thank you very much.
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