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Seminar in Vilnius May 16

Participants at the GCMC seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania - May 2016 (Tip: Click on image to start the gallery)

By James E. Brooks,
George C. Marshall European Center Public Affairs Director

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies hosted two-day Regional Energy Security Seminar in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 24-25, focused on energy independence, alternative and renewable sources and the importance of regional cooperation.

More than 20 participants representing government officials and military officers from Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Poland participated in discussions and small group activities.  The seminar is one of more than 100 non-resident and outreach events organized by the Marshall Center each year that broadens and strengthens cooperative approaches to regional European challenges. 

“The rapidly shifting factors affecting contemporary energy security were at the top of the agenda for this seminar of regional security specialists.  For many of us, certainly for me, the most interesting aspects of the discussion were the insights from countries playing key roles in energy transit,” said George C. Marshall European Center Program Director for Central Asia Dr. Greg Gleason who was one of the organizers of the seminar. 

An impressive agenda included high-caliber, regional energy experts shared their perspectives and emphasized the importance of cooperative approaches.  Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Lithuania Howard Solomon was one of the speakers and welcomed the participants to the seminar.    

“The energy sector is one that seems to be in a state of constant change over the past few years, which is has mostly been positive.  We are seeing new power generation and connections, new gas facilities and pipelines, and new renewable resources coming online, all of which will help diversify sources of energy and lower costs.  However, despite the rapid progress that has been made in the past five years, we know that it can all go awry rather quickly if we do not collectively take measures to guarantee the security of resources and infrastructure,” said Solomon. 

Among the topics discussed over the two-day seminar were:  NATO’s role and value in energy security; regional politics impact on energy security; diversification and price of regional energy, the role of Black Sea and Eurasia and southeast Europeans countries have in strengthening global energy security; and the geopolitics of energy. 

Keynote speakers included NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence Deputy Director French Lt. Col. Nicolas Henry; Prof. Dr. Oktay Tanrisever, faculty member of International Relations Dept. at Turkey’s Middle East Technical University; Chief Advisor to the State Minister of Georgia for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Giorgi Gobechia; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Lithuania), Ambassador-at-Large Ausra Semaskiene; European Climate Foundation Fellow Julian Popov; and Georgia’s Center for Advanced Energy and Security Studies, Dr. Liana Jervalidze.

“We were fortunate the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NATO Energy Security Center of Excellence provided ideal guidance for the departure point for this discussion.  I hope we will be able to continue this dialogue in the future as all the partners in the region seek to secure arrangements that are more efficient and equitable,” said Gleason. 

Dr. Valbona Zeneli, George C. Marshall European Center’s Program Director for Black Sea and Eurasia also helped organize this seminar.  She emphasized the importance of energy to nations in the Marshall Center professional network.

“Energy security is a very important topic on the world agenda and is crucial for most countries but some are more dependent than others on foreign supply.  For the Black Sea region, common energy policy and collaboration are crucial, defined by important pillars such competitiveness, security, energy supply.  Lithuania, where we hosted this seminar, is a perfect example of a nation that took energy diversification initiatives in the last few years and we are happy they openly shared their experience with other participants from other nations in the region. At the conclusion of the seminar, participants agreed that energy is not only a tool that can be used geopolitically, but can be also a perfect dri‎ver for regional collaboration,” said Zeneli. 

 

Photos from the seminar can be found online in the Regional Energy Security Seminar Album.