Energy security focus of NATO seminar in Georgia
In cooperation with the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NATO organised the seminar “Energy Security and Critical Energy Infrastructure” on 5 and 6 May in Tbilisi, Georgia, to enhance cooperation and find ways to better address challenges to energy security.
The event drew 75 participants from Allied states; Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and Mediterranean Dialogue countries; as well as international organizations and think tanks. It was opened by George Baramidze, Georgian Vice-Prime Minister and State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, and Michael Gaul, Head of the Defence and Security Economics Directorate of NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division.
Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili and State Secretary for Strategic Affairs Bogdan Aurescu underlined in their keynote speeches the strategic importance of energy transit countries in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region. Regional security is key to a stable and secure energy supply for several NATO member and partner states.
“The energy security issue is not only about providing stable and reliable energy supply, diversification of routes, suppliers and energy resources, and the interconnectivity of energy networks,” said Secretary Aurescu. “It is also about implementing environmental protection measures and protecting critical energy infrastructure.”
Because these issues can affect the interests of consumer, producer and transit countries, he called for greater cooperation between NATO and its partners.
Challenges to energy security
NATO’s Michael Gaul spoke about the variety of challenges to energy security, such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “We have seen …that acts such as piracy on the high seas, the security implications of failed states or climate change indirectly impact on energy, too.” Adverse political and economic conditions, as well as geological instabilities can also disrupt energy supplies, he said.
Referring to Georgia, he called the region between the Caspian and Black Seas “a bridge between major players”. “This is a vital transit area, where energy resources are transported from the Caspian basin towards the European consumer markets, where transportation routes can be further developed and their protection further enhanced.”
Several proposals were examined for assessing the risks, threats and vulnerabilities of critical energy infrastructure, and for improving energy security through information sharing and closer cooperation between NATO Allies, partners, international organisations, think tanks and academia. Exchange of information and best practices, international cooperation and public-private partnerships were also discussed.
At NATO’s 2008 Bucharest Summit, the Heads of State and Government identified principles and outlined options and recommendations for the Alliance in the area of energy security. These were reiterated at the most recent summit in 2009 in Strasbourg and Kehl.