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Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum 2009


  • Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council
  • Ambassador Mikail Eriksson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden (Speaking on behalf of Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden; Former Prime Minister, Sweden)
  • Doru Costea, State Secretary for Global Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania

October 2, 2009

FREDERICK KEMPE:  (In progress) – for what’s going to be a very interesting morning.  We have some of the most important players on the policy side today in our minister’s roundtable, just as yesterday we had some of the most important players in the region on the business side.  

I think all of you last night who participated in that quite extraordinary session – CEC Bank – and heard the chairman of the Atlantic Council, Sen. Chuck Hagel, one of the more important foreign policy thinkers in America, and Dinu Patriciu talk I think in a very memorable way about what really connects this region beyond resources.  And I think it was a very, very good time.  

I’d like to welcome you all back.  I’m very proud and happy to announce to you that – and we’ll do this later on in the day – that we’ll be on to Istanbul next year.  I’ve had discussions this morning with high representatives of the Turkish government.  They’re very excited about it.  We’re very excited about working with them.  Sen. Hagel met with them this morning and we’re very proud that we’ll be there.  Some point in October we’ll get you the dates as soon as we can for that important continuation of this initiative – not this conference, this initiative.  

It’s very good to see Minister Videanu here this morning.  I thank you for your support throughout this conference.  I think this is an excellent beginning for something that we think is going to be important both in the region and also in Washington in continuing to focus interest in the region among U.S. policymakers, and in Brussels in focusing interest in the region among EU policymakers.  It was very important for us also to have the EU represented here and the EU will continue to be represented in Turkey next year, of course.  As we heard from Paolo Scaroni on the opening evening, Turkey already is an energy member of the European Union and in almost every respect that one can imagine.  

At this point I want to hand the stage to the Swedish ambassador-at-large responsible for energy, Ambassador Eriksson.  He’ll be giving us a special message from the EU presidency and the foreign minister, Carl Bildt.  Carl Bildt’s a long time personal friend, a long time friend of the Atlantic Council.  He probably is one of the three or four – if not one or two – best strategic thinkers in Europe.  We had him speaking to our board meeting last week of the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.  He would like to have been here himself because of the importance he gives to the region but he will be here himself in words.  And so Ambassador Eriksson, we thank you for bringing this special message to us from Carl Bildt.  (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR MIKAIL ERIKSSON:  Thank you very much, Fred, for that introduction.  Yes, indeed, I do have a message to bring to you from Carl Bildt, the minister of Sweden and the current president of the Council of Ministers in the European Union.

Allow me first, however, to thank the organizers of this conference for inviting me to give this message.  And I know that, like Fred just said, Mr. Bildt would have very much liked to be here but the president’s schedule is such that it just proved impossible for him.  But he does send his regards and his best wishes for this conference and for fruitful conversations, which we’ve already had.  So that wish is already being fulfilled.  

And as you just heard, he had the opportunity just a week ago to pay tribute to the important work done by the Atlantic Council at a dinner in Washington and so he – his thanks for organizing this event go to the council, obviously, but also to the remaining Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed a timely conference.  And the topic for our deliberations – energy security – is at the top of the international agenda.  It is interesting, in fact, that energy securities is not at all anymore a domain reserved for ministers of energy or for experts from the energy sector.  On the contrary, prime ministers, foreign ministers have regular and quite detailed discussions on this matter.  And I think this illustrates the realization that energy security, important as it is in itself, is also intimately linked to the wider issue of international relations and, indeed, global security.  And nowhere perhaps is this more evident than in the Black Sea and Caspian regions.  

The politics of energy and the energy security of the nations of the region have been at the heart of their efforts to build sovereign and prosperous states ever since independence.  And yet I think within the EU the discovery at the highest political level of the importance of these issues has been more recent, and it’s linked to European explorations of ways to achieve diversification of energy sources, supply, transit routes.  And so there is still room and scope for the EU to develop – to continue to develop its approach towards the region within its long-term political and economic security framework and strategy.

Now, we do have a common stake in the future of the states in this region and we must engage more deeply with each of them based on their own priorities and their own values.  And I think this conference will no doubt assist us in this endeavor.  

The European Union is also in the process of developing our energy relations with other partners and we have a continuous and constructive dialogue with countries like Russia and Ukraine, which are both very obviously central to European energy security.  And we are engaged in a very positive and product discussion with the United States on how to strengthen and formalize the trans-Atlantic link, the trans-Atlantic partnership in this area.  And this is with a view to establishing a regular dialogue at the political level in this area.  And I think we are approaching a stage where we can actually be fairly concrete in that sense.  

Now, what is important for the Swedish presidency – and indeed for any presidency of the European Union – is to try and make sure that the EU continues to speak with one voice and to act in a coherent manner, vis-à-vis our partner countries.  And in this we are building on the achievements of the successful Czech presidency and indeed also of course on the important work done by the European Commission.  

The Swedish presidency continues to keep energy security high on the agenda of the European Union.  And the January 2009 crisis did not come as a great surprise for those who follow the gas sector, and certainly not for the industry.  But for the public in general and for many at the level of, let’s say, political decision making, this was in a way a wake-up call.  And since then I think the EU has been taking several steps to prepare better for a possible next time.  

And based on proposals from the commission the council is actively pursuing various ways of increasing European energy security inter alia through the proposed revised legislation on security or gas supply.  And so you might say that we are actually in Europe now trying to get our homework done in this regard.  

But as presidency, we are making an additional point, and that is that in addition to measures relating to infrastructure, pipelines, energy efficiency is central to achieving energy security.  Now, we want to send a very strong signal that the EU has taken the lead in promoting energy efficiency as a ways to achieve three interlinked objectives:  increasing energy security, decreasing CO2 emissions and combating the economic crisis, because these three points go together.  

Learning how to use energy and natural resources as efficiently as possible and to generate energy from clean sources will help us in achieving our energy and climate goals, and at the same time will be a contributing factor in the development of new business opportunities and green jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen, enhancing the security of energy supply is a matter of strategic interest for the European Union.  One of the requisites for this is a well-functioning European energy market, characterized by higher degree of integration than what we see today, as well as of course market-based energy policies.  In addition, diversification in terms of sources, fuels and routes of supply plays a crucial role in this regard.

By taking concrete steps in developing our relations with the nations on the Black Sea and Caspian region, and by realizing the southern corridor concept and its vision of deeper regional cooperation on energy, we will be acting to the benefit of consumers, producers and transit states alike, and ultimately in the interest of peace, security and prosperity in the region.  

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, again let me thank you on behalf of Foreign Minister Carl Bildt for your attention.  And again, his best wishes for a fruitful conference.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE:  Thank you, ambassador.  Anyone walking through the Atlantic Council offices in Washington would think that Sweden has taken over the Atlantic Council, actually.  My vice president, Anna Eliasson Schamis – and you see her with her team well-represented here, Elena Pak, who has been the lead person in that group for this conference.  And we’ll have a chance to applaud the whole team later on today.  But as you see them around, this has been a remarkable feat of organization and logistics.  

And so, as I said, we’ll applaud them later but don’t be shy about thanking them and tipping your hat to them as you go through the day because it’s really quite remarkable what the combined U.S.-Romanian team, from Alex Serban’s team in our office in Bucharest to the team operating out of Washington, has been able to pull off.  

Let me at this point introduce our short morning keynote.  We have been operating within a Romanian political weather even and the foreign minister, Cristian Diaconescu, a great friend of the Atlantic Council – we put on an event for him in Washington – could not appear as foreign minister this morning because he’s not foreign minister any longer.  And we all know he’ll continue to be enormously influential in Romanian life and we welcome him back to Washington at any point and in engagement with this meeting.  

In his place this morning will be Doru Costea, the state secretary for global affairs.  Doru was appointed secretary of state for global affairs on the 10th of January, 2009 in the foreign ministry.  Between 2003 and 2009 he served as the permanent representative of Romania to the United Nations office in Geneva.  He’s been with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1990.  He was an ambassador to the state of Kuwait and the sultanate of Oman.  And so he does know something pretty deep about energy issues, and particularly energy issues with partner countries of Romania.  And he was also ambassador to the Arab – Republic of Egypt.

He’s held the positions of head of policy planning group and the director of the Department of Analysis of Information with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He’s a graduate of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Bucharest with Arabic and English as his majors.  Currently he’s studying for a Ph.D. in international relations.

In 2002, he received the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs annual prize for innovative diplomacy.  And in 1999 he was awarded the National Order for Faithful Service.  So let’s just say that we have someone to speak to us this morning with a wealth of knowledge and experience to get us off to a good start this morning.  I turn the podium to you, sir.  (Applause.)

DORU COSTEA:  Thank you for these very warm and flattering words.  I do have to live up to them.  

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it goes without saying that I’m deeply honored to have the opportunity to address such a distinguished audience.  It is also a pleasure to speak on behalf of the minister of foreign affairs, a partner with the minister of economy in organizing this event, together with our friends in the consul.  

We highly appreciate the initiative of the Atlantic Council of the United States who organized the first edition of this forum in Bucharest.  And we are quite encouraged to learn that in the coming years this process will continue and we are looking forward to resume our talks in Istanbul next year.  

The political context of today’s debate, ladies and gentlemen, links to the Black Sea region, a topic that we always address with the same conviction.  Much has been said and much has been written about this area in the past years.  It is a region with great potential for economic development and highly relevant in the context of the topics that lead the current global agenda.  

The Black Sea region gathers of course diverse geostrategic interests, ongoing processes of economic consolidations and, last but not least, frozen conflicts.  With the NATO and EU enlargement the Black Sea region has become the place where different strategic visions meet, reaching beyond the regional dimension.  More and more the region becomes of vital interest for the energy security of the European Union.  

For several years now Romania has taken important and diversified efforts to ensure that the strategic relevance of the Black Sea is duly reflected in the European and Euro-Atlantic agenda.  The NATO summit in Bucharest and the adoption of the Black Sea synergy by the European Union brought the cooperation potential of this region to the trans-Atlantic focus.  In this context we remained convinced of the value of pragmatic and flexible cooperation projects that are open to all parties in the region.  

I know there are also more cautious approaches to the issue of enlarging the cooperation framework, but we assure that we do attach due attention these approaches and we still remain convinced that it is possible to improve our common understanding of this huge cooperation potential.

Energy has a clear footprint on the cooperation relations in the Black Sea region, where the interests of producers, consumers and transit countries come together.  Considering the ever-deeper interdependence between these actors we do think that the successful approach of energy security starts with better cooperation based on transparency, mutual trust and respect for the interest of all stakeholders.  

The G-20 leaders gathered last week in Pittsburgh, reiterated the importance of these principles for global energy security and for ensuring access to reliable, diverse, clean and affordable energy as a crucial element for sustainable economic growth.  We do welcome the commitment of the G-20 leaders to increase energy market transparency and market stability to strengthen the producer-consumer dialogue, to promote energy efficiency and renewable energies, and to spare no efforts in order to reach agreement in the Copenhagen conference.  

Ladies and gentlemen, Romania’s vision of a more secure, long-term energy future has the diversification of both energy sources and routes as an essential premise that is based on the fundamental principle, where multiple options entail benefits for both competition and citizens.  

We consistently promoted as a priority of our foreign policy agenda the achievement of the Nabucco pipeline, the most important EU-supported alternative gas project in the Black Sea region and the backbone of the southern gas corridor.  As a part of our diversification option in the oil sector, we support the development of the PEOP – that is Constanta-Trieste pipeline project.  We also support short and medium-term energy projects such as construction of an LNG terminal in Constanta Harbor, the development of underground gas storage facilities, interconnection of our national energy systems with that of neighboring countries, or the establishment of a regional energy exchange market.  

We are also concerned and do work on – in the field of renewable energies where we aim on capitalizing on Romania’s potential, especially with regard to hydro and wind power.  In the latter case, it is worth pointing out to the recent ambitious project that was initiated in the Dobrogea region.  

Other than this, we promote the respect of the free market principles and the freedom of transit.  These principles we consider essential in preventing energy crisis such as the one many European states were confronted last year.  Our commitment towards the European energy policy is also reflected by the application to host in Bucharest the premises of the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators.  

Last but not least, let me highlight a couple of elements of the European policy – on the foreign energy policy agenda, rather – that we have considered to be particular important for Romania.  

Since we are under the trans-Atlantic auspices I would first mention the U.S. proposal to establish an EU-U.S. energy council, an initiative that we welcome as a great opportunity to deepen the trans-Atlantic energy dialogue.

Second, I’d like to mention the accelerated development of our cooperation with central Asian and Caucasus countries.  Romania supports dedicated EU policies such as the southern corridor initiative, the Eastern partnership with the central – the strategy for Central Asia.  Let me reiterate the welcome of the presence of the government representatives from the Caucuses in Central Asia for this conference.

Third, the successful approach of global and regional energy challenges needs trust base and mutual respectful cooperation with Russia and Turkey, actors of high importance in the Black Sea energy game.  Romania, as well as the EU, have a particular interest towards these countries.  Russia is Romania’s traditional energy partner, with whom we intend to further develop pragmatic, economic and energy relations, future-oriented and focused on shared opportunities.  With Turkey we intend to conclude a visionary partnership that will include, among others, as one of its essential elements cooperation in the energy projects of neutral interests.  

In order to diversify energy sources we also consider developing the cooperation with partners in the neighboring region of the Black Sea, such as Iraq, which will also bring a real contribution to the stabilization and development of the country.  

Last but not least, we are interested in battling the effects of climate change and promoting energy efficiency through renewables at both European and the regional levels.  Consequently, we strongly support the objectives pursued by the Swedish presidency of the EU in these areas.  

Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday was dedicated to visions of the global energy market and to scenarios of the future energy security.  Today’s discussion would focus mainly on the policy responses, as our host has just mentioned.  We have – I think that we do must encourage new ideas.  We do need to be more bold and we do need to have a stronger cooperation with government, corporate and academic representatives, and this may be a good step in the right direction.

Let me reiterate the thanks on behalf of the minister of foreign affairs to the Atlantic Council, as well as to our other partners that made this event possible.  Thank you very much and let me wish you a very fruitful day of discussions.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE:  Thank you so much for that important statement.  It’s amazing how many projects and plans are in place.  And now we’re going to hear the ministers of the governments around the region talking about just those plans and see to what extent they agree and have other views.

If the panelists on the next panel could start working their way to the stage, please, and take their places to get microphoned up and we’re going to go straight into this – and we’re going to go straight into the next panel and then take a half hour break after the next panel.

Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.

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