Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
The V4 Extended Energy Summit has ended. This was a meeting that we had prepared for long, and which has yielded a few very important results, indeed milestones for the energy policy and energy security of the region.
We organized today's energy summit to establish a link between countries that are already linked through their interests because we believe that unity is strength. We have emphasized this many times: Central-East European countries should shape their energy policies together, and they should operate coordinated strategies to reassure the management and solution of the situation.
Last January, and also three years before that, we all could experience first hand how vulnerable and exposed we are. I already told this when talking about trust in a speech in Parliament the other day, and let me repeat this idea in the context of energy and security: These are like air for us. You don't even realize how important it is as long as it is there and readily available. But when it is not there, we suddenly start suffocating.
Last January people were cold and freezing in several countries of Central Europe, while in other places, such as in Hungary, we had to use already existing energy reserves. We have thus learnt how vulnerable we were; and that is why we had started diligent, careful and cooperative actions in order to be able to find our ways jointly also out of this crisis.
The energy security of Central Europe must be strengthened. This is not only about this region but also about the entire European Union. We are convinced that the cooperation and energy security of Central, East- and South-East Europe will improve security throughout Europe, and therefore it serves a common interest of the Union. This is something that we have reiterated many times. And today we could decide some very concrete actions in order to achieve this. We could create critical mass in today's meeting, the critical mass of Central-East European countries that can be more successful in representing their own interests if they act together, shoulder-to-shoulder and in cooperation instead of acting on their own. They can be more successful in letting their voices be heard. We can put through our interests more efficiently in the international arena, within and without the European Union.
Following the initiative of the V4 Countries, we have accepted a declaration that is co-signed by several Central-East European countries. Please allow me to list the countries that participate in this agreement today. It includes the Visegrad 4 Countries, i.e., the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Slovak Republic and the Republic of Poland. Co-signatories of today's declaration are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Austria as well.
A very wide and strong partnership has been created in order to make sure that there are much less people in the region who cannot sleep quietly or have to freeze due to an energy crisis.
We emphasize in the declaration we have accepted today that energy security is a priority for all of us. We think it is of pivotal importance that we let the energy supply of Central-East Europe stand on several feet. We also spoke about the concept--and it is part of the declaration--that a new supply triangle would be created in Central-East Europe through new investments, projects that would allow gas to reach this region through alternative routes, or even in alternative forms.
Gas can be supplied from the east through the Nabucco pipeline, from the north by using the LNG terminal in Poland, and from the south by using the LNG terminal to be constructed on the island of Krk in Croatia, all from independent sources and through independent routes. All of this can then be complete with additional investments around the Black Sea that we also touched upon today.
We have also declared that it is not enough just to create feeding points, but we should also connect the countries and pipelines of the region from the north to the south, from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. Energy should flow freely among countries. The most important investments required for this can be completed by 2014-15; balanced and stabile energy supply can be achieved in the region by then.
We have also agreed that we want to tie our cooperation closer both on the state and on the corporate levels. We coordinate our crisis plans with strong regional cooperation, and if eventually another energy crisis threatens our countries, then we can help each other out quickly and properly. There was already a precedent for that during last year's gas crisis when Hungary helped Serbia and Bosnia. Now we would like to achieve this solidarity and cooperation on a much wider scale.
We have also declared that the European Commission must play a key role in this task, i.e. in the management and coordination of eventual crises. The whole of Europe should show solidarity in cases like that, so that no individual region has to carry the entire burden of an energy crisis. This is also why it is important that a functional and just European internal energy market be created. The commercial delivery points of natural gas received from third countries should not be on the borders of nation states but rather along the external borders of the European Union.
Various European Union funds are already available as we speak; however, significantly more funding is needed for the implementation of our plans. These plans should and can be supported from our common funds, so that we believe the second energy policy action program of the European Union should play a priority role in this. This program will operate between 2010 and 2014.
We would also like to use the Cohesion Funds of the European Union more intensively and not only for renewable energy, which is very important, but also for turning our existing energy systems more secure.
Our efforts can bring about true competition in the gas market, and hopefully also in the electricity market. This is no longer about energy security but also about creating better quality services and--what is at least as important--energy can become cheaper for businesses operating in the region, families living in the region and public institutions working here. This is also something we sincerely hope from this coordinated effort.
I am convinced that this summit today is a milestone in the energy security of the region. A partnership of so far unprecedented strength and width has been created. However, this is only the first step, or the kick-off I could say. We have many goals to score in this process. We should find partnership with our partners beyond the region and also outside the European Union to make sure that everybody can see their interests represented in this process.
I believe that with this meeting today we could express a strong, clear, benevolent and long term, forward looking will of Europe, something that we want everyone to know. We hope that all our partners will respect this and will look at it as a project and process that is equally important for them as well.
Thank you very much for your attention.