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Thursday, 13 November 2008

Participation of the President of the Republic of Poland in the Baku Energy Summit

In the evening of 13 November 2008, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, left for Baku to take part in the Energy Summit. The Polish President was accompanied by the Head of the Presidential Chancellery, Piotr Kownacki, Secretary of State at the Presidential Chancellery, Michał Kamiński, and Undersecretary of State at the Presidential Chancellery, Mariusz Handzlik.

The Energy Summits involving the Presidents of Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania and Ukraine were initiated in Cracow in May 2007, and are devoted to the Odessa-Brody-Płock-Gdańsk pipeline project, a venture of strategic importance to Poland’s energy security. Also attending were Turkish, Bulgarian and Hungarian leaders as well as representatives of the European Commission and the United States. This was the fourth energy summit. The next one is scheduled to take place in Georgia in the spring of 2009.

The Summit was devoted to a discussion of issues relevant to the concept of the Caspian-Black Sea-Baltic Energy Transit Space, which is being developed by a working group. The Summit was also discussing broadly conceived issues related to energy security in Europe and worldwide.

In the morning of 14 November, an Energy Summit plenary session opened. After the deliberations, a luncheon was hosted by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in honour of the Heads of Delegations participating in the Energy Summit. Subsequently, a meeting was held between President Lech Kaczyński and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. 

In Baku, President of RP made the following points:

”I am not here to discuss all of those aspects. But there is certainly one aspect which is significant. It could be described in most general terms as various influences competing to impact gas and crude oil producers. The producer states, including Azerbaijan, are striving to secure for themselves the obvious right to use their own resources in a sovereign manner. There are, however, states which like to act as intermediaries, or even as monopolists in their intermediation. Seen from the perspective of transit countries and consumer countries, and my country belongs to this group, the activities undertaken two and a half years ago in 2006 were aimed at increased diversification. Or to put it differently: they were aimed at securing diversification, since before there was no diversification, whereas we managed to move things importantly forward. The counteraction was meant to affect the corridor which in Poland is defined as a South-Eastern Corridor, and obviously from the Azerbaijani or Georgian perspective it bears a reverse name of a North-Western Corridor, so as to render its operations impossible or to stem them.

Having in mind the interests of not only Azerbaijan itself, Georgia Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania but likewise the interest of the entire European Union and of the whole world, I firmly believe that this design shall not be achieved. The world strives to make sure that the prices of crude oil are foreseeable, as it was highlighted on many occasions at the Summit, and to make both gas and oil commodities which are subject to normal trading and not a tool of political actions. Let me once again thank President Aliyev for having this Summit meeting organized under new conditions, the Summit which is attended by so many countries. We are very supportive of the Nabucco project, as we hope all people gathered in this room are, we likewise support the projects of transmission across Greece and Turkey but we also set great store by the route: Odessa – Brody – Płock – Gdańsk. Please remember that this is the route which leads up to a large oil handling port with the capacity of 38 million tones per annum, the capacity which can be easily built up to 50 million tones without incurring major investments.

I must admit that as a representative of the Polish state, next to crude oil I am also interested in gas supplies. And from our perspective, but also from the EU perspective, the vast deposits in Azerbaijan should be sent in various directions, including north-west. Admittedly, for the time being this is just a project for the future but the one which needs to be duly considered already now. Diversification is needed for obvious reasons, the reasons mentioned by Mr Adamkus just a moment ago. There is no need to repeat them. As far as the European Union engagement is concerned, I indeed subscribe to the point made by President Adamkus, namely that the engagement should be greater than it has been until now. The plan involving the oil pipeline: Odessa – Brody – Gdańsk, or Nabucco, are not designed to cater to the needs of individual Member States. As a matter of fact, they are to serve the European Union as a whole, and it seems to me that it would be good to have the European Union realize the fact completely. The European Union is a union of twenty seven states. Today, representatives of some of them are present in this room, and in larger numbers than they were before. So I would like to convey to them this truth which is anyhow quite obvious: Studies carried out to check the economic profitability of the pipeline project to be run by the Sarmacja Company, have so far been positive. There are all reasons to believe that the project will be viable also in economic terms, regardless of what skeptics might imply. This is in my view a very good news, indeed, and I would like to reiterate that it is not only good for my country or Lithuania with whom we are working together and who is our neighbor. It is also good for many other European Union Member States, especially in its northern part. I do hope that the problems that were once signaled to me during my visit to Hungary concerning Nabucco will be likewise overcome.

Problems are likely to emerge in any project of that kind but they should not obscure the most fundamental goal: to make Europe independent in energy terms. And the precondition for such independence is economic and political independence of the states that produce the materials for generation of energy: i.e. crude oil and natural gas. Azerbaijan belongs to such states, as much as other countries of the region do: including Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan. Obviously, decisions taken by those states are fully sovereign and no pressure must be exerted in this regard but I would like to underscore that their sovereign decisions are a good foundation for the European Union countries and the countries which have not yet joined it but certainly will, as our Ukrainian friends, to develop a sense of security in the area of energy supplies. Thank you very much.”

In the evening of the same day, President Lech Kaczyński returned to Poland. 

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