October 12, 2007
Central European and Baltic leaders are calling for a greater diversification of EU energy supplies and a united EU foreign energy policy towards Russia.
They met in Vilnius on Thursday (11 October) for a two-day international conference on energy security, responding to fears that Russia is increasingly wielding its massive energy resources as a political weapon.
“Unjust manipulation or interruption of energy supplies is as much a security threat as is military action,” Czech deputy prime minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said, according to Reuters.
“Post-Soviet countries have been experiencing that on a daily basis, as Russia’s appetite for using energy as a political weapon is growing,” he added.
Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus stated that a united EU energy policy towards Russia would be the right answer to the problem.
“The European Union, and I stress the word union, should as a united player find ways to pursue an active, open dialogue and well-balanced cooperation with Russia, which is and will remain an important EU energy partner,” he said, Forbes reports.
The call for more unity comes after Russian gas giant Gazprom and German firms BASF and E.ON are planning to build a pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea, connecting Russia and Germany, while bypassing the traditional transit countries – the Baltic states and Poland.
Instead Mr Adamkus hopes to get the backing of the EU for a gas pipeline from the Caspian region to Ukraine and further to Poland, circumventing Russia in an attempt to diversify energy sources.
Russia and Germany declined to send a high-level delegation to the two-day summit.
Commission wants clarity on pipeline
Andris Piebalgs, EU energy commissioner, is planning to meet Russian energy minister Viktor Khristenko next Tuesday to ask for clarity on the reopening of an oil pipeline leading to Lithuania.
According to Lithuania, the closure of the pipeline in 2003 was politically motivated, but Russia vehemently denies this, saying that it was required to make necessary repairs to the infrastructure – which according to the latest Russian estimates could last up to an extra 18 months.
The Commission is now demanding a clear answer on when the pipeline will start to function again.
© EUobserver.com 2007
Printed from EUobserver.com 12.10.2007