Posts filed under ‘South Europe’
As the BNS informed seven presidents, 12 ministers, top-ranking officials of the United States and the European Union (EU), as well as experts and representatives of energy companies will gather in Vilnius later this week to discuss global energy security and search for the framework for EU external energy policy.
Presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Latvia, Romania and Ukraine, EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, US Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell, representatives of governments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and Bayrammyrat Myradov, executive director of Turkmenistan’s presidential state agency for management and use of hydrocarbon resources, will participate in the conference – the Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007: Responsible Energy for Responsible Partners – in the Lithuanian capital on Wednesday and Thursday.
French President Nicolas Sarcozy will not attend the event because he will be visiting Russia on these days. Russia delegated Ambassador Boris Tsepov despite the fact that the invitation was sent to President Vladimir Putin.
Agenda of the two-day conference organized by Lithuanian and Polish presidents, Valdas Adamkus and Lech Kaczynski, includes signing of two five-country agreements concerning cooperation among companies and ministries of Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia implementing the project of the pipeline Odessa-Brody-Plotsk-Gdansk.
It is expected to be the last step for launching the alternative project to Russia’s oil supply. Odessa-Brody-Plotsk-Gdansk is planned to be the first pipeline to link the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea regions with countries of the Baltic Sea region and become the new way of oil transit to Europe.
As the Presidential Press office reported the Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus’ speech at the session of the United Nations General Assembly did not name Russia, however, accused the country of wasting its rich natural resources on weapons rather than using them on democracy.According to the President’, Lithuania and the Baltic region is a success story in terms of establishing themselves in the international system, while some other countries in the region were not able to do that.
The President stated that; “We may only guess why these countries perceive the integration of democracies at their border as a national threat. We feel sorry for a society at large when its government chooses to spend the country’s natural riches for guns and not for democratic reforms. And clearly we should not tolerate the attempts to falsify historical facts about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States or the denial of the deliberately caused Holodomor in Ukraine that killed millions”.
The President noted that some conflicts in the world were less visible but that did not make them less dangerous, adding that the UN should be more “visible and outspoken” in such regions. In Adamkus’ words, “frozen conflicts” in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus may become “very hot” one day unless we act immediately.“Let us not forget that it is not only the conflicts that are frozen, but frozen are the lives and dreams of the people living in those areas of artificial conflict. This is where the United Nations should be more visible and more outspoken. (…) However, our readiness to stand up and speak openly to the states if they cross the line is also an indispensable element of that effort”.
The blog would like to represent you with analysis from Mr Vladimir Socor, from the Jamestown Foundation, on the latest meeting of the The New Friends of Georgia group in Lithuania.
The New Friends of Georgia group of countries conferred in an enlarged and upgraded format on September 13-14 in Vilnius. This meeting shows that a strong nucleus of eight countries has developed within the European Union and NATO (alongside the United States in the latter case), supporting an active policy by the two organizations in Europe’s East generally and toward Georgia in particular.
Initiated in 2005 in Tbilisi by the three Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria, the New Friends’ group has matured this year. Georgia’s Black Sea neighbours Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, while the Czech Republic and Sweden have joined the New Friends of Georgia group. The meeting in Vilnius was the first held at the level of ministers of foreign affairs in full format. The EU’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, participated as an observer, while his Swedish compatriot, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, brought Sweden to the table for the first time.
Reviewing proposals prepared by Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New Friends group of countries agreed to work jointly as well as in their national capacities to promote the following Euro-Atlantic and Georgian goals:
Regional Security and Stability
Noting that Georgia’s security, democratic stability, and integrity constitute major European and Transatlantic interests, the group called for policies to be premised on that fact. Georgia’s internal reforms, “a successful example in the region and beyond,” substantiate Georgia’s aspirations to closer Euro-Atlantic ties.
Strengthening Georgia’s ties with NATO and the EU would contribute to regional security and also help stabilize Russia-Georgia relations, the group noted. NATO AgendaThe New Friends (except Sweden, which is not a NATO member) support Georgia’s goal to advance to a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at NATO’s summit in Romania in the spring of 2008.
Based on Georgia’s performance on military reforms and its troop contributions to allied missions, the group concluded that Georgia already forms a significant element in Euro-Atlantic security and is prepared for the MAP. The Abkhaz and South Ossetian secessionist conflicts must not be turned into “an inhibiting factor or an excuse” for temporizing on Georgia’s integration into NATO. No country outside NATO [read: Russia] has a right to veto the alliance’s decisions, the group noted, as an indirect reminder to several West European governments in the context of the MAP debate.
EU Neighbourhood Policy
The meeting called for adjusting the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) more closely to Georgia’s internal reform performance and to the EU’s own interests in the region. Facilitation of travel visas and access of Georgian exports to the EU are priority goals. The EU’s current visa policy toward Georgia offers easier access to Russian passport holders (from Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as from Russia), as compared with Georgian passport holders.
This policy is “unfair and counterproductive, it undermines Georgia’s territorial integrity and European security interests,” the group observed. It called on the EU countries to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate trade and visa facilitation agreements with Georgia.
In his intervention, Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adrian Cioroianu noted the parallels between the unresolved conflicts in Georgia and Moldova. He underscored the common interests of Romania and Georgia in resolving those conflicts on the basis of Georgia’s and Moldova’s territorial integrity and, as part of that process, ensuring Russia’s compliance with the 1999 Istanbul agreements to fully withdraw Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova.
However, “Russia wants a new treaty [on conventional forces in Europe] that would consign Russia’s commitments to oblivion. Romania wants no foreign troops unlawfully stationed in its neighborhood, and we have a common interest with Georgia in this regard,” Cioroianu declared (Mediafax, September 14).
The Romanian minister announced his country’s full support for Georgia to advance to MAP at NATO’s Bucharest summit. Such support is procedurally important, as the summit’s host country significantly influences the event’s agenda.
Shortly before the Vilnius meeting, Georgia’s New Friends acted effectively as a group already at the EU’s meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Portugal on September 8-9. There, the group’s countries called on the European Commission to begin negotiations with Georgia on travel visas and trade and on the EU to adopt a stronger collective position toward Russia’s ongoing intrusions into Georgia’s air space.
The New Friends are stepping into a role vacated by the old group of “Friends of Georgia.” Formed a decade ago by the United States, Germany, Britain, and France, that group soon lost its effectiveness and ultimately its relevance by admitting Russia into its ranks and reinventing itself as the United Nations Secretary General’s Friends on Georgia.
From that group, only the United States consistently adheres to the original policy priority while the other three Western powers have (in varying degrees) relegated Georgia to lesser priority status in their policies.
The Vilnius meeting amounts to a political signal that a new centre of gravity has evolved within Euro-Atlantic organizations regarding policies in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood. The United States and the New Friends of Georgia can together form a critical mass for shaping strategy and policy toward Georgia and in Europe’s East.Euro Asia Daily Monitor, September 17, 2007 — Volume 4, Issue 171
As the BNS reported the meanwhile with an official visit to Spain, the Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas expressed his regret because of Russia’s foreign policy getting more aggressive and because of usage of energy instruments in it.
Kirkilas told that at meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero. Nevertheless, Kirkilas also emphasized constructive cooperation with Russia in spheres of economy and transit to Kaliningrad and underlined importance of EU unity and mutuality in relations with Russia.
Kirkilas invited Zapatero to energy summit forum to be held in Vilnius in mid-October, Spanish prime minister assured that Spain will be represented in the forum by the highest level.
As the Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry informed a meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of the countries forming “New Group of Friends of Georgia” will take place on 13-14 September in Vilnius. This is the first time when the meeting of “New Group of Friends of Georgia” is organized in Vilnius.
The meeting will be attended by Georgian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Czech Estonian, Polish, Romanian foreign ministers, the Bulgarian Vice-Minister Evgenia Koldanova, and EU Special Representative for South Caucasus Peter Semneby.
Sweden has also expressed its wish to join “New Group of Friends of Georgia”. Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt attends to come to the meeting as well.
In Vilnius “New Group of Friends of Georgia” will discuss the issues that are currently most important to Georgia – namely, issues of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.On 14 September Ukrainian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Volodymyr Khandogiy plans to join the ministerial discussion of “New Group of Friends of Georgia” on cooperation between the Baltic and the Black Sea states.
“New Group of Friends of Georgia” was established at the initiative of Georgia in February 2005. The first meeting of the group was arranged on 4 February 2005 in Tbilisi. Delegates met on 9 November 2005 in Bucharest, Romania, for the second time. On 9 November 2006 the third meeting of “New Group of Friends of Georgia” was arranged in Sofia.
As the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry announced during the official visit to Serbia Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Petras Vaitiekūnas encouraged Serbia to enter into negotiations on the status of Kosovo constructively and seek for a compromise.
“Lithuania supports the resumed negotiations on the status of Kosovo between Belgrade and Priština, which are mediated by the European Union, the USA and Russia. We expect that the compromise on Kosovo’s future will have been reached by December of this year,” said the Head of Lithuanian diplomacy during the meeting with Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremić. According to P.Vaitiekūnas, Serbia should be interested to solve the issue of Kosovo as soon as possible.
“The solution regarding the status of Kosovo would allow faster integration of Serbia into the EU,” said Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs P.Vaitiekūnas.