Remarks & Statements
Remarks by Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis at the Atlantic Council’s Conference: “The Next 40 Years: Advancing EU Energy Objectives in East Central Europe”
October 4, 2012, Intercontinental Hotel
- as delivered -
Good evening, it is a pleasure to be here and to see so many distinguished guests and energy experts, including our very own Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation, Dr. Robert Ichord. I am thankful to the Atlantic Council in Washington and the Regional Center for Energy Policy Research at Corvinus University in Budapest for organizing this important, timely, and forward-looking regional energy conference here in Budapest.
While I was in Washington DC in 2009 receiving briefings in preparation to come as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, I began to learn a great deal about how complex energy issues are both in Hungary and in this region. Budapest really is the crossroads of Europe -- not only geopolitically, but in terms of energy too.
Given the pressure on resources that we see around the world, it falls upon all of us to develop and use resources efficiently, creatively, and wisely. Like Hungary and many other countries, the United States has long recognized that a secure supply of diverse, sustainable energy sources is critical to economic growth. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a strong proponent of sustainable energy policies and recently said this about our country: “with a growing global population and a finite supply of fossil fuels, the need to diversify our energy supply is urgent. We need to engage traditional exporters and emerging economies alike, to bolster international energy security and ensure that these countries’ natural wealth results in inclusive growth.”
Of course, the world of energy does not end at our borders. We are economically linked and have close political ties with Europe, and in that regard support European efforts to diversify energy supplies as a means to enhance regional and global energy security. We actively work with other governments to reinforce energy security policies based on sound market principles. The United States actively supports commercial and diplomatic efforts to open new gas supply routes along the Southern Corridor and also encourages the cooperative efforts of the Visegrad Four -- Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary -- along with other regional groups. Here are some of the things that we are doing:
- First, we encourage the development of new oil and gas resources while at the same time promoting efficiency and conservation. As the market for liquefied natural gas continues to grow, we can start to think about moving natural gas around in the marketplace, much like oil. We strive to help Caspian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries find new routes to market. By expanding export routes, these hydrocarbon-rich countries will be able to demand a fair price for their products and create strong links to the global economy. We support the establishment of a Southern Corridor able to bring natural gas to Europe via Turkey from the Caspian, and potentially other sources, to countries in Europe who need it the most.
- Second, as I mentioned above, we are committed to assisting Europe in its quest for energy security. Ambassador Richard Morningstar, our former and very dedicated Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy and current Ambassador to Baku, used to say, “I am asked all the time, why does the U.S. care so much about European energy security?” His response was simple: “The United States and Europe have the world’s largest trade and investment relationship. We have an interest in each other’s economic strength, and energy security is a major factor in the economy of any country. In the end, it is our aim to encourage the development of a balanced and diverse energy strategy, a competitive and efficient market with multiple energy sources, and multiple routes to consumers.”
- And finally, we have always recognized that what Europe does internally with respect to energy is more important than any pipeline. Increased regional cooperation leads to greater energy security, potential access to EU financing, and the ability to identify and carry through regional priority projects. Working together with the EU Commission when appropriate on energy projects of regional importance will only strengthen this region’s energy security.
The types and amounts of energy used and the decisions we make now will have far reaching consequences and will significantly impact national economies, competitiveness and productivity, the global climate, and even the health of our children. With so much at stake, I am confident that Europe and the United States will continue their strong cooperation on these very important issues, and I believe this conference can make progress toward that end. Thank you again for inviting me here, thank you, David, and I look forward to hearing more about the results of this fruitful and productive endeavor.
Thank you all very, very much.