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Caspian Energy Journal Caspian European Club
Thursday, 25 June 2015 15:30

Bert Koenders: invest in new energy partners

According to the Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders, the Netherlands and the rest of Europe need to invest more in relations with new players on the energy market and deepen existing ties. ‘In the years ahead energy diplomacy will become more and more important in helping us diversify our gas supply,’ the minister said. The EU ministers discussed the matter in Luxembourg. Security of supply is one of the Energy Union’s objectives, Caspian Energy News (www.caspianenergy.net) reports with reference to the press service of the Government of Netherlands.

As part of these efforts, Koenders is planning to strengthen ties with countries in North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. Good relations with transit countries like Ukraine and Turkey and those neighbouring the EU to the east and south-east can also help reduce energy dependency on Russia. The minister seeks to bolster energy cooperation with the US and China as well.

Russia is currently Europe’s biggest energy supplier. ‘The crisis in Ukraine demonstrates how tightly interwoven politics and energy can be,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘Last winter lengthy negotiations were needed to get Russian gas to Ukraine without interruption. Imagine the EU ending up in that situation. That’s why the EU badly needs to avoid dependence on Russia in the long term, especially since we’re going to be relying increasingly on imports over the next few decades. We must ensure we have several sources at our disposal instead of putting all our eggs in one basket.’

Koenders therefore welcomes the Energy Union announced by the EU early this year. ‘Our course has been set,’ the minister said. ‘Now we have to continue full steam ahead.’ He hopes the EU will make major strides in completing the internal energy market, boosting its own energy production by generating renewable energy, and reducing demand by saving energy.

The minister regards the way we organise and safeguard our energy supply as one of the greatest political issues of our time. He believes that the near future will be increasingly defined by energy, sustainability and climate change. Energy will also be used more often for political leverage, especially now that geopolitics has again become a contested terrain. ‘In the interests of all the world’s people,’ Mr Koenders said, ‘it’s crucial to combat the use of energy as a political instrument.’

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