"The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows"

Aristotle Onassis

Meeting: November 13, 2014: Russian gas and Ukraine transit on the verge of winter: Do the Baltic States and Central Eastern Europe have genuine cause for concern?

This interactive discussion of the Brussels Energy Club addressed the topic of:

 

"Russian gas and Ukraine transit on the verge of winter: Do the Baltic States and Central Eastern Europe have genuine cause for concern?"

 

And took place on Thursday, November 13, 2014, 5-8pm @ TUSIAD Avenue des Gaulois, 13, Brussels 1040

 

With special guest speaker

 

Matthew Bryza 

Director of the International Centre

for Defence Studies, Tallinn,

Former-US Ambassador to Azerbaijan

 

 

 

Background

As Europe prepares for the heating season, chill is once again in the air. However, in the present day and age, Europeans are becoming more accustomed to such chills resulting from turbulent winds emanating in the Russian neighbourhood, rather than from a downward drop in the temperature nearer to home. Indeed, 2014 has been one of the more testing years in our relationship with Russia in recent memory, with "big questions" being asked of European energy security. Russian intervention in Ukraine and the political crisis which that country continues to face translates into another winter of uncertainty for European energy consumers. While Gazprom and Naftogaz appear to be making traction on a new supply agreement, sources close to the ground suggest that "all options are still on the table" and further disruption of supply during the winter simply cannot be ruled out.

It is a clear testimony to the importance of having a fruitful outcome to Russia-Ukraine gas talks that the EU Energy Commissioner has recently found himself right in the middle of the negotiation process. Further, the whole equation remains dependant on the fragile cease-fire in Ukraine"s east — if Donetsk explodes once more an energy security crisis in Europe may erupt like a volcano. While the European Commission assures us that EU is much better prepared for a fresh round of gas supply cut offs, the truth of the matter is that today much of the continent remains in an extremely vulnerable state. The Baltic States, as well as much of Central Eastern Europe, remain too heavily dependent on Russian gas, despite honest attempts to diversify and build genuine energy independence.

What steps are these countries currently taking to protect themselves from possible gas shortages this winter?  Is the risk of a gas supply shut down perceived to be substantial in this part of the EU? Are these states satisfied that Brussels is doing enough to sure up their interests vis a vis supply risk to the east? What sort of "shuttle diplomacy" is taking place behind the scenes in order to prevent another crisis? These are just some of the vexing questions that Matthew Bryza addressed during a presentation at the Brussels Energy Club on Thursday November 13. Having served as a key figure in the construction of US energy policy towards Eurasia for the entire post-Cold War era, Ambassador Bryza is extremely well placed to look at Europe"s energy security in a holistic manner. In his remarks during this BREC session, Ambassador Bryza not only provided us with valuable information on how the Baltic States and Central Eastern Europe are preparing for possible energy security fallout this winter, but offered us genuine insights into the diplomatic as well as commercial processes that underscore energy relations between east and west.

 

Program November 13, 2014 — 17.00-20.00: 

  • Arrival of members and guests leading into welcome cocktail   
  • Welcoming remarks by Dr Bahadir Kaleagasi, Chairman, Brussels Energy Club
  • Setting out the debate by Dr Marat Terterov, Executive Director, Brussels Energy Club
  • Presentation by Ambassador Matthew Bryza
  • Reflections and remarks by members and guests of the Brussels Energy Club, leading into Q/A session (NB: all discussions during the session will take place under the Chatham House Rule).
  • Buffet supper reception and networking opportunities with the speaker

 

Speaker information

Matthew Bryza is the Director of the International Center for Defence studies in Tallinn, Estonia, a Non- Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States, and a Board member of the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC. He resides in Istanbul, Turkey, where he also works as a consultant on business and democratic development and as a board member of several private companies involved with energy, oil spill response, agribusiness, and petrochemicals.

Bryza just completed a 23-year career as a U.S. diplomat, over half of which he spent at the center of policy- making and international negotiations on major energy infrastructure projects and regional conflicts in Eurasia. His most recent assignment was as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan from February 2011 to January 2012.

During 2005 to 2009, Ambassador Bryza served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, with responsibility for Eurasian Energy, the South Caucasus, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. Ambassador Bryza simultaneously served as the U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE"s Minsk Group mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and as U.S. mediator of the Cyprus, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia conflicts.

During 2001 to 2005, Ambassador Bryza served in the White House as Director for European and European Affairs on the National Security Council Staff. His responsibilities included Eurasian energy, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and political Islam in Eurasia.

Previous assignments include Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Energy, Advisor on Economic Reform in the South Caucasus and Central Asia and Russia Desk Officer at the State Department; and Political Officer at the U.S. Missions to Russia (1995-97) and Poland (1989-91).

 

Further information

For more information please contact Martin Minarik on industry@brusselsenergyclub.org and/or Ben McPherson on research@brusselsenergyclub.org, or visit the contacts section of our website.

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