Books on Lithuania
Update No: 322 - (25/10/07)
Adamkus and 'Sarmatia'
Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus gave another example of his deal-brokering
skills October 10 at the Vilnius Energy Conference, which he was hosting.
Adamkus persuaded the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland and Ukraine to
join him in signing an agreement as a basis for further cooperation in the
energy sector - in particular the creation of a new transportation corridor for
crude oil and natural gas from the Caucasus to Eastern Europe. Azerbaijan
however, has made the point that as the presumed supplier, their participation
will depend upon their having been able to increase their production, to meet
this new market demand.
At an earlier meeting in Krakow, the presidents had agreed to begin work on the
so-called Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk Project. Now, a consortium of companies
representing each country will oversee the project.
The main goal of the new consortium - named 'Sarmatia' - is to prepare a
feasibility study for the transportation system from the Caspian Sea through
Azerbaijan, Georgia, then to Ukraine and Poland to European and international
The presidents also agreed that the next meeting of the 'Krakow Forum' countries
will be held in Kiev, Ukraine next year.
However, despite the lavish compliments paid to him by the other presidents -
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili even talked of Adamkus performing another
"special miracle" - Adamkus may have been short of one additional
signature he would have liked to add to his collection.
No agreement was signed between Lithuania and Poland concerning the proposed
'energy bridge' link that would supply power from a future nuclear power plant
at Ignalina, Lithuania to the north-east of Poland - an area facing an even more
acute energy crisis than other parts of Poland.
"We had bilateral negotiations about the electric bridge," Adamkus
said at the evening signing ceremony in the grounds of the presidential palace.
"It has to be built and it will be built. Today we have not signed for one
reason only. It will be signed immediately after a company structure has been
established - before the end of this month."
Polish president Lech Kaczynski also tried to talk up the project, but seemed
less willing to provide a specific timetable or talk in anything but vague
terms. Indeed, when one journalist asked if Poland could be regarded as a
reliable partner in light of its demand - delivered just days before the
conference was due to start - that it must receive at least a third of
Ignalina's output, Kaczynski became indignant, responding: "I would not
like to receive such questions in the future."
From the comments of the presidents it seems that in return for their huge
supplies of gas and use as transit routes, the Caucasian members of the
consortium will gain strong support for closer ties with the EU from their
Eastern European counterparts. In the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, that could
mean backing for an actual EU membership bid - which considered realistically
might not make much difference to their near-term prospects!
Adamkus optimistic about Ignalina
President Valdas Adamkus believes Lithuania may be able to convince the European
Union of the necessity to extend the lifespan of the current Ignalina Nuclear
Power Plant (INPP).
He is confident, however, that the country will avoid "energy famine"
under any scenario. Even if a new Ignalina II facility is completed by 2012 - a
prospect that seems increasingly unlikely - there would be a three-year gap
between shutdown of the old Soviet-era plant and the opening of the new
state-of-the-art facility. However, 2015 is looking like a more realistic target
given the ongoing wrangling between the Baltic states and Poland over their
respective shares in the project and the share of power output they could expect
"First of all, we shall evaluate the current circumstances, future
prospects, and then go, talk and negotiate using the language of arguments; I
think this is reasoned and necessary. I think it is possible [to convince the EU],"
said Adamkus, October 16 in an interview with Lithuanian radio station Ziniu
"There are lots of reasonable people and they see the actual situation as
it is, since we are an EU member state, and it is important for the EU not to
ruin the whole economic life of one of its members. I think we will not be able
to build [Ignalina II] by 2009; (that was a condition of acceptance of their
membership of the EU), it might be expected that we will build by 2012 if we are
not put back by vain discussions now. Reasonable people may always agree on a
period of two or three years, I believe," Adamkus said in Tuesday's
interview to the news radio station Ziniu Radijas.
"The most important thing is that we have a new power plant to build, and
it would be unreasonable, irrational to cut any further supply sources we are
using at present. I think that any reasonable establishment or person will
understand [that] we may consider a period of extension so as to have us shift
from one system to the other," Adamkus said.
"I will be visiting Sweden in mid-November, I have already spoken about a
possibility to have a link to Sweden via the Baltic Sea, via Estonia, and get
electricity from Sweden. Again, Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, who is
well aware of the circumstances, told me during the Vilnius Energy Conference
that Ukraine was ready to sell electricity to Lithuania, if required,"
Adamkus' hope for an extension of the Ignalina deadline directly contradicts
what European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said just days earlier.
"The power plant shall be closed as scheduled, since it has been provided
for in Lithuania's Accession Treaty. Moreover, a shutdown compensation scheme
has been worked out. The funds being assigned will be lost if the obligations
are not fulfilled. Finally, the closure date is no surprise to Lithuania,"
the commissioner told the media.
"Let us not waste time on vain discussions," he warned.