NATO and partners discuss emerging risks to energy security at conference in Baku
Emerging risks to energy security are of concern to NATO Allies and partners alike. The cross-cutting character of these risks was the focus of a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 22 and 23 May, organised by Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Academy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the US State Department and NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division.
In his keynote speech, Richard L. Morningstar, Ambassador of the United States to Azerbaijan, highlighted the impact of energy vulnerabilities on the Alliance: "NATO – as individual allies and partners and as an alliance - has an important role to play in energy security in the 21st century. Energy access and diversification of supplies, security of transit, critical infrastructure protection, including cyber security of energy facilities, and increased ingenuity in operational energy will have dramatic and lasting impacts on NATO’s ability to ensure the safety, security, and resilience of its allies and partners who will continue to face an array of threats and hazards."
The event featured panels on the role of the Caspian region in European energy security; terrorism and its implications for energy infrastructure security; cyber risks to energy infrastructures; and challenges to energy security in the maritime domain.
Experts discussed a wide range of threats and risks that can compromise energy infrastructure networks, such as terrorist attacks, piracy and cyber threats. These risks affect both NATO Allies and partners alike, since countries are often connected by energy infrastructure networks. The conference generated a number of ideas and best practices in enhancing prevention and resilience in this field.
Ambassador Gábor Iklódy, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, stressed that “developing responses to emerging security challenges is a common effort of Allies and partners. Together, we need to extend our partnership to the full spectrum of security issues, including to those that do not necessarily have a military dimension.”
Over 130 participants from 31 NATO member and partner countries took part in the event, which was hosted by the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev, Rector of the Academy, underlined the intensified cooperation between Azerbaijan's academia and NATO countries, thanks to a number of projects implemented through the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.
Daniel Christian Ciobanu, Ambassador of Romania to Azerbaijan, representing the NATO Contact Point Embassy in the country, stressed the importance of NATO's partnership activities in the field of energy security and the relations between NATO and Azerbaijan for Europe's energy security.
This point was echoed by Michael Rühle, Head of NATO's Energy Security Section, who mentioned that this was the third conference of its kind – following previous events in Georgia (2011) and Ukraine (2012) – and stressed the role of such conferences in generating ideas for NATO's partnership activities in the area of energy security, such as training and education.