When speaking at the annual conference “Independent Energy - Strong Economy” on 10 October, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis emphasized that although Lithuania regained its independence more than 22 years ago, it still may not freely choose importers of oil, gas or electricity.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that the on-going reform of Lithuania’s energy sector and integration into the EU’s energy market were leading toward energy independence. Therefore, “in the nearest future our daily life will no longer depend on the good will of foreign countries or their desire to manipulate.”
In order to consolidate Lithuania’s independence, we must perform one more task, i.e., achieve energy security and independence, and that is why “it is extremely important to continue to work vigorously. Delays and doubts over energy projects cost Lithuanian citizens much more than investment in energy security,” the Minister said.
Ažubalis also suggested keeping in mind that Lithuania was not alone in its attempts to achieve energy security.
“Lithuania’s energy projects are important for the entire Baltic Sea region, including the Visaginas nuclear power plant, which is being implemented by three countries, energy and gas interconnections, and other projects. They are part of the 2008 Baltic Energy Interconnection Plan, the implementation of which is strictly supervised not only by all the countries, but also by the European Commission. Moreover, the EU funds are also allocated for the implementation of the projects. This is ensuring the energy independence of Lithuania through its membership in the European Union,” the Minister said.
Lithuania actively participates in shaping the EU’s common energy policy and there are already reasons to be glad: the EU member states have agreed to create common energy market until 2014 and to eliminate “energy islands” until 2015. The cooperation of the EU member states and their speaking with one voice to third countries can be illustrated by the European Commission’s probe against the Russian energy giant Gazprom, the Commission’s negotiations with Russia and Belarus on the pan-European electricity grid interconnection in the Baltic States, etc.
“The principle of energy solidarity of the EU member states is enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon and is gradually starting to become a reality,” the Foreign Minister said.
When speaking about new challenges of energy security, the Minister emphasized Belarusian and Russian plans to build unsafe nuclear power plants at the Lithuanian state borders: “The decision of these countries to disregard International Conventions is incomprehensible and cynical. Furthermore, these countries did not carry out a detailed survey and ignored the concerns of their neighbours”. According to the Minister, thanks to joint efforts of Lithuanian institutions, officials managed to speak with one strong and reasonable voice about these concerns. Moreover, the entire world has already heard this voice. The European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are addressing these issues. Also the United Nations organization has heard Lithuania’s concerns over unsafe neighbourhood - the Implementation Committee of the UN Espoo Convention is holding a hearing into Lithuania’s claim that Belarus failed to carry out the provisions of the Convention.
The most important annual energy forum in Lithuania, the conference “Independent Energy - Strong Economy” is co-organized by the magazine Valstybė (“The State”) and partners. At the event, representatives from state institutions, politicians, Lithuanian and foreign energy experts, and representatives from energy companies are analysing essential energy transformations in Lithuania and in the world, and their impact on the economy.