Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The speech of the American ambassador James Warlick at the energy forum in Sofia

euinside, March 3, 2010

As euinside considers the statements of the European Commissioner on energy Guenter Oettinger and of the American ambassador in Bulgaria James Warlick at the Black Sea Energy forum in Sofia as very important, this is why after we presented to you the speech of Mr Oettinger, now you can read the statement of H.E. James Warlick:

"I would just like to mention that one week ago the Atlantic Council hosted a conference on NATO. And you might want to ask why I am mentioning NATO in the context of a conference on Black Sea energy. Well, let me refer you to our Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who said at the Atlantic Council conference:

1. Energy security is a particularly pressing priority;

2. Countries vulnerable to energy cut-offs face not only economic consequences but strategic risks as well;

3. The U.S. is determined to support Europe in its efforts to diversify its energy supplies. That’s a very important message. The decisions that are being taken in Bulgaria and in Brussels today will have an impact not only on Bulgaria but on the region for decades to come. These decisions need to be taken with great care, great thought and also important discussion, and I appreciate that the Atlantic Council has come to Bulgaria to be a part of that discussion.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the PM for his participation in a meeting last week of the Visegrad Four countries. It’s a clear indication of the emerging unified position in this region that energy security and diversification are important priorities. And I commend the PM for his recent proposal that the time has come for a centralized agreement for purchase of energy supplies. I would invite the European Commissioner to also be part of that discussion. It’s important that this discussion not just take place among the Visegrad Four but also include other European countries. I would also hope that the European Commissioner will continue to make the Southern Corridor a priority. That means of course the Nabucco project which we hope will come to fruition in the very near future but also the conclusion of a Turkey-Greece-Italy interconnector for natural gas. There are also other EU initiatives that are important and let me just tick off a few that I know are being considered in Brussels and deserve support throughout the region.

1. The focus on building a single market for energy;
2. Unbundling the distribution and supply functions of energy firms;
3. Building interconnectivity of European gas and electricity networks;
4. Enhancing LNG import capabilities and increasing gas storage.

Each of these issues is important for Bulgaria and the region. We need leadership in Brussels as well as in capitals throughout the EU.

Let me mention to you five goal posts if you will, or five critical issues that Bulgaria and the EU consider when discussing energy security. For those of you who’ve heard me speak before, this should come as nothing new, and in fact I hear a discussion around these five themes on a regular basis in Bulgaria.

The first and perhaps most important is diversification. As all of you know, this is an issue not only for Europe but for the U.S. We, too, need to diversify our energy sources from Middle East oil just as Bulgaria and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe need to diversify their sources of energy. This is not about any one country. This is about energy security for the future.

The second priority is that decisions on energy need to be based on economics and energy security, not on political pressure and vested interests. That only seems obvious but the decisions that are taken now will have a profound impact on the future and we are not only talking about energy, but we are talking about the economy region-wide.

Third, transparency. The Gas Transit Transparency Initiative in partnership with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a sister organization of Transparency International, is extremely important so that we don’t find decisions are made on political pressure and back-room deals.

I would like to congratulate Minister Traykov for his participation with Transparency International and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. That’s a good sign. In this regard, Bulgaria could play a role as a leader in the region for transparency in transit countries. We all welcome the steps towards that goal.

I would mention just two other particularly important areas for the future for Bulgaria and for the region. First is renewable energy, and here again Bulgaria is one of the leaders. The American company AES has established a wind farm in the country and is looking at a substantial investment in solar energy in the country. This would make Bulgaria one of the leaders in Europe in renewable energy.

And finally, and this is a challenge during hard economic times. It’s important that Bulgaria and the region invest in technology. A key to coming out of difficult this tough economic period is budget discipline but also growth. And that comes about in Bulgaria and other countries by attracting foreign direct investment. Investing in technology, investing in training and education will in fact attract investors to Bulgaria.

I look forward to a discussion today and talking with many of you about the future of energy in Bulgaria and in the region. Please be assured that you have the support and full confidence of the United States".

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