Lithuania’s President calls on the EU to demonstrate more solidarity and to implement more rapidly energy projects linking Europe and the Caspian Sea region

Press Service
Office of the President
Republic of Lithuania

Friday, November 14, Baku – President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus delivered a speech in the Energy Security Summit in Baku.

The President underlined that energy security and diversification have become one of the greatest challenges of our time not just in terms of security, but also in environmental terms. According to the President, there are practical and useful national initiatives and many bilateral agreements aimed at responding to this challenge. However, the President says, only a concerted and cooperative approach, encompassing all the countries concerned, can lead us to sustainable energy security and continuous economic growth.

Lithuania’s leader said he highly commends the European Commission which has already undertaken many initiatives, including those covering the Caspian and Black Sea regions, to address diversification and energy security issues. “However, this time the initiative to find creative energy security responses comes from the countries in the region themselves. And in this context, we the EU member states should be very responsive, constructive and quick in pursuing not only the dialogue, but also real and viable projects linking the EU and Caspian Sea countries,” President Adamkus said.

The President said he believes the initiative to develop an energy transit space between the Caspian-Black Sea regions and European countries with the aim of implementing alternative commercially viable projects – such as the Nabucco gas pipeline and the Odessa-Brody-Plock oil pipeline – opens the door to a much broader solution of the energy security problem.

The President of Lithuania also noted that this initiative needs not only the attention of the European Union, but also its real involvement and cooperation. “The energy security challenge requires urgent actions and therefore a more supportive and more proactive EU approach is needed today,” the President said.

The President suggested steps for enhancing the EU involvement in this initiative and its projects, like the Odessa-Brody-Plock. According to him, a special representative of the European Commission should be appointed to participate in the development process of the initiative. Also, a special meeting should be arranged during the Czech EU Presidency to introduce this initiative to the other EU member states. The President stressed this would not only reflect the principle of solidarity, but would also show Europe’s serious approach to the importance of the project. According to Adamkus, the European Union should support these efforts not as a gesture of favor, but because creating strong alternative routes from different sources is essential for the bloc’s energy security.

President Adamkus further said he believes that pooling together the efforts of the Caspian and Black Sea countries with those of the European Union creates the synergy and the potential for bridging the gap between today’s lacking energy infrastructure and tomorrow’s energy security needs.

“I already see the practical steps in this direction. The Euro-Asian Oil Transportation Corridor and the Nabucco projects would help diversify energy supplies and produce a positive impact on the economies,” said the President of Lithuania.

“What Europe needs most is to ensure that natural gas prices are set by market forces rather than monopoly power. We must decrease our dependency on a single external energy supplier by securing diversified gas supplies”, the President underlined. According to him, the Caspian Sea region and Iraq play a key role in this regard. “We should use the potential of these oil and gas rich regions to supply the European market via the Southern Corridor. In this context, the development of the Nabucco and the Turkey-Greece-Italy pipelines are critically important,” the President said and pointed out that both these gas pipelines are far more economically efficient and important in terms of energy security than the other projects which would help diversify the supply routes, but not the sources, and that is the most important thing.

Lithuania’s President singled out a competitive oil sector and diversified oil supplies as of having crucial importance. He welcomed the Czech Republic’s skilful management of cutbacks in the Druzhba system, which make it feasible to explore routing some of the Caspian oil via Odessa-Brody to Slovakia and onward to the Czech Republic.

The President underlined that “the development of the EU-Caspian corridor in energy and other sectors is beneficial to both sides and might bring an added value if included in the European Neighbourhood Policy. Today we are facing a unique opportunity for a deeper EU engagement in the region and I hope we will make use of it. In this context, Azerbaijan plays a special role. Today I see many reasons why the European Union should treat Azerbaijan and work with it as a strategic partner”.

According to Adamkus, as we move forward to enhance European energy security, transatlantic cooperation becomes even more significant, and the successful implementation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project has proved the strength and viability of such cooperation. Therefore the President strongly urges moving further on in that direction. He said he has no doubt that the new US administration will strengthen our efforts in this regard.

The President underlined that the EU has already come a long way to build energy security and diversify its energy supplies based on cooperation approach. So did the countries of the Caspian and Black Sea regions. “Our common principles and vision and the projects planned is the right way forward. But today it is high time for our respective governments to show strong political will and make real progress in implementing projects like the gas pipeline Nabucco, the oil pipeline Odessa-Brody-Plock, and the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline. Failure or our inability to act will send a wrong signal to energy suppliers, to our current and perspective partners, and to our own citizens whose well-being directly depends on a reliable supply of energy resources. I know that reaching an agreement between five or seven countries takes more time than signing bilateral agreements. But sustainable energy security is surely worth the time,” said the President.

President Adamkus made a point that lasting energy security cannot be created without the solidarity of all partners. However, as the President said, “it is the European Union that must show the example. If the European Union acts as one, our efforts to diversify energy supplies and build genuine security will have a much higher chance to succeed. I hope that solidarity in energy security becomes a symbol of a strong and united European Union in the 21st century”.
Press Service of the President