Audronius Ažubalis: Europe Won’t Assure Its Energy Security without the USA

By Konstantin Ameliushkin and Roman Jakovlevsky

"Europe is not yet able to assure a single energy course without the USA, and this is its weak point", – considers the head of Lithuanian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis. During the interview to DELFI he dwelled on priorities of foreign policy, the EU initiative of “Eastern Partnership”, energy security and the view on the operation of Russia-NATO Council that will officially resume its work in the end of April. 


the head of Lithuanian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis


The main subject of the oncoming Summit in Prague is the initiative of “Eastern Partnership”. How do You see its future especially after the latest events in Moldova and opposition protests in Georgia?

I would say simply that “Eastern Partnership” – is a fishing rod for each country individually. We won’t compare Moldova to Ukraine, Georgia to Moldova or Azerbaijan to Ukraine. All these countries have different situation, as well as geographic location. So there is no ground to compare these countries. This is simply a chance for them, and it’s up to them to decide on the importance of this chance. We want this belt of democracy to grasp this area as wide and tight as possible, in a positive sense of course. For these people to say good bye to the past and to establish the world of democracy and security.
 “Eastern Partnership” is a Polish-Swedish initiative...

I would like to specify that this initiative resulted from the meeting of two Presidents - Kaczyński and Adamkus. I consider the change of partners as positive.  The participation of Sweden and withdrawal of Lithuania is fine as well as that today this initiative is called Polish-Swedish. As a matter of fact we should acknowledge that this has greater power. But we have no grieve, as considering from pragmatic point of view, this promoted the successful establishment of this eastern policy.
The uniqueness of Lithuania is concluded in the fact that it borders to a single country included into the list of “Eastern Partnership” - Belarus. When they say about realpоlitik it is first of all associated with Berlin policy. It means that economy plays a first part, and only then it comes for EU fundamental values. Possibly to say that lately Lithuania has adjusted its policy without absolutization of realpоlitik. Will Vilnius adjust its steps in respect of such a complicated neighbor as Belarus?

I think and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Ušackas stated repeatedly that our policy should be logical. There are tactic issues, but we should underline that this eastern policy has started shaping only now. Before this we developed the shape, structure of this policy. You are talking about Germany and its pragmatism. But who incited the process of shaping this policy and gaining the approval of the whole EU as a counter to Mediterranean countries? All these happened during the presidency of Germany in the EU. So we should pay it a debt, considering its political weight. It managed to do the thing, that we are expecting in Prague at the moment, i.e. it managed to establish this policy de jure.
The President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus suggested creating Transatlantic Energy Council. How is this prospect real?

In principle, it’s another attempt to create global energy policy, of equal care of Americans and Europeans. We should acknowledge that until now the USA have cared more of European energy security than Europe itself. Dwelling, for example, on oil pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, the only alternative construction, than it wouldn’t operate without support and initiative of the USA.

It would have been suspended as Nabucco, that was almost crossed out of the EU priority projects. It demonstrates one thing once more – Europe is not yet able to assure its unique energy policy without the USA support, financial support. This is its weak point. That is why the idea of Transatlantic Energy Council is one of the ways. Maybe it will work out.
The Russia – NATO Council on Ambassador level will start working in the end of April. Lithuania logically supported the idea that it’s still early to resume the activity of this Council as Russia hasn’t yet accomplished its obligations on Georgia… Georgia held NATO trainings and Russia wasn’t delighted about it. How do you think should Lithuania act in this respect? Should it keep on defending its point of view that hasn’t gained overwhelming support, or should Lithuania adjust its position?

We had different approaches. Our opponents insisted on the urgency of talking, because non-talking is worse. Consensus is consensus.  And we agreed, but there were some conditions including, roughly speaking, the condition to keep in mind the situation in Georgia. During NATO Summit it all was in communiqué. Nothing new, but the positions remained unchanged: on bases, territory occupation, quasi-states recognition.

On the other hand, now we’ll see whether there will be any reaction from Russia. The upholders of the Council activity resuming said, that signs from Russia were urgent. And we’ll see what kind of good will Russia will demonstrate.Then the reaction of our partners will be interesting.
Referring to the latest events in Moldova, protests of opposition in Georgia, how do You think is the further NATO extension real, regarding the inclusion of such new members as Georgia, Ukraine?

I think, there will be no efforts as no one needs “overload” that is able to produce definite troubles. For some Portuguese or Spanish government it is pretty difficult to understand “why” and “how” do the events in Moldova happen – robbery, and from the other hand normal protest. And we can’t blame them. Another question is “what” and “who” stands behind all these. I’d like to repeat, if there is no political will to develop in this direction (to NATO) – no one will help or give any advances. The way to NATO is limited with pretty simple criteria – democracy.

When we see that Georgia makes moves in this direction, when there is a legitimate president, protesting opposition, than the country moves forward. Its part is occupied, but I think if someone considers it to be the greatest obstacle – I disagree. If the rest unoccupied part will develop properly, than nothing will prevent Georgia to join NATO.
Lithuania interests are definitely corresponding with the essence of the “Eastern Partnership” initiative. It was evident from the geography of visits of former and current Lithuanian Government...

I think that tactics can change, but the ground will remain. Security and democracy in Georgia and in Caucasus in general, in Moldova, in Ukraine, not mentioning Belarus – our greatest interests. Everything is interconnected at the moment.

The only system that is able to assure stability and relative security – is democracy. And NATO is an individual choice of each country. We are interested for democracy, security and as possible prosperity to be there (in the countries included into the “Eastern Partnership” - DELFI). As we are supporting Georgia not because they strive to join NATO, but as are eager to become a democratic state. All these six countries are different. No one expects that “Eastern Partnership” will produce the same results within these states.
Thank You.

Translated from Ru.delfi.lt